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1 850. 


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847, by 
J. A. & U. P. JAME S, 
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of Ohio. 

JAMES & CO., Stereotypers, Cincinnati. 
J. A. & U. P. JAMES' Steam Press. 


The author is well apprised that any new pub- 
lication, at this time, must either possess a high 
degree of literary merit, or treat of events in which 
all feel a lively interest, to recommend it to the 
favorable consideration of the reading public. For 
the success of this work he relies chiefly on the 
atter circumstance. 

Mexico has recently been the theatre of many 
thrilling events. The presses of the country are 
teeming with books, written on Mexico, the Mexi- 
can war, and Mexican manners and customs. De- 
scriptions of camps, marches, battles, capitulations, 
and victories, have almost sated the public mind. 
But these have all, or nearly all, had reference 
to the central or southern wings of our army. 
Little has been said, or written, in regard to the 
"Army of the West." The object of the following 
pages is to supply this deficiency, and to do justice 

to the men, whose courage and conduct have ac- 

( iii ) 



complished the most wonderful military achieve- 
ment of modern times. For, what can be more 
wonderful than the march, of a single regiment of 
undisciplined troops, through five populous States 
of the Mexican Republic — almost annihilating a 
powerful army — and finally returning home, after 
a march of near six thousand miles, graced with 
the trophies of victory ? 

To the kindness and courtesy of Cols. Doniphan 
and Price, Lieutenant-colonel Jackson and Major 
Gilpin, Captains Waldo and Reid, Montgomery 
Leintz, and Dudley H. Cooper, the author is in- 
debted for much valuable information. He also 
desires to express the obligations under which he 
feels himself, to the late lamented Captain Johnston, 
aid-de-camp to Gen. Kearney, whose Notes were 
recently published, and to the Hon. Willard P. Hall, 
of Missouri, for an account of the march of Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Cooke to California, and of the sub- 
sequent operations of General Kearney in that 

His acknowledgments are also due to his va- 
lued and esteemed friend, L. A. Maclean, of the 
Missouri Horse Guards, who generously and gratui- 
tously furnished most of the designs which embel- 
lish this work. These sketches were engraved by 
H. C. Grosvenor, of Cincinnati. The steel engrav- 
ings were executed, from Daguerreotype likenesses, 


of Colonels Doniphan and Price, by C. A. Jewett, 
also of Cincinnati. The Map, illustrating the 
different Routes and Marches of the several sub- 
divisions of the Western Army, was principally 
constructed from personal observation. 

Except for the long-established custom of pre- 
facing books, the reader would scarcely demand 
of the author an explanation of his motives, in 
attempting to publish to the world a full and 
faithful account of the Western Expedition : em- 
bracing the Conquest of New Mexico ; the Treaty 
with the Navajo Indians ; General Kearney's over- 
land march to California ; Colonel Doniphan's 
invasion and capture of Chihuahua ; his triumph- 
ant march through the States of Durango and 
Coahuila ; his junction with Generals Wool and 
Taylor ; his return to New Orleans, by way of 
the Mexican Gulf, and his subsequent cordial re- 
ception, by the citizens of St. Louis, and Missouri 
generally ; — together with the brilliant achieve- 
ments of the army under Colonel Price, at Santa 
Fe. These are subjects of great historical interest 
to every American citizen. 

The author was an eye-witness of, and an actor 
in, many of the scenes which he essays to describe ; 
having been present at the capture of Santa Fe, 
and in the battles of Brazito, Sacramento, and El 
Poso. The narrative has been prepared with a 


conscientious regard for truth — the beauty of all 
history. He, therefore, trusts that his labors may 
meet with a favorable reception, by an enlightened 
and generous public. 


Liberty , Missouri, September 25, 1847. 


Memoir of Col. A. W. Doniphan 13 


Origin of the War with Mexico — Hostilities begun — Act of 
Congress to raise Troops — Plan of Invasion — Causes which 
justify the War — Army of the West — Gov. Edwards' requisi- 
tion — Troops rendezvous at Fort Leavenworth — Drill exer- 
cises — Election of Field Officers — Strength of the Expedition 
— Ladies visit the Fort — Presentation of flags — Two squa- 
drons dispatched in pursuit of Speyres and Armijo — Departure 
of the Expedition — March conducted by detachments — Scene 
at the Stranger — The Kansas — Shawnees — Bewilderment — 
Bluff hill — Santa Fe Trail — Fiery steeds — Description of 
Troops composing the Army of the West 21 


View of the Army on the Prairies — Singular phenomenon — Atten- 
tion to Horses — Fourth of July — Council Grove — Its locale — 
Diamond Springs — Government trains — Interesting inquiry — 
Prairie fuel — Musquitoes and the black gnat — Express from 
Col. Doniphan — Altercation between Officers — Chavez — His 
tragical end — The mirage — Sand-hills — The Big Arkansas — 
— Buffalo — Pawnee Rock — Forces reunited at the Pawnee 
river — Difficult passage — The Infantry — Major Howard — 
Charge upon the Buffalo — Reptiles and insects — Flowers- 
Prairie dog villages — Death of Lesley — Attachment of men 
to their horses — Appearance of the Army — Fitzpatrick, the 
mountaineer — The report — Mexican spies taken — Army en- 
camped in the Mexican territory 37 

C vii) 




The Estampeda — Fort Bent — Lieutenant De Courcy — Arapaho 
chief — March resumed — The Army passes the Desert — An 
adventure — Spanish peaks — Half rations — Return of De Cour- 
cy — Doniphan's speech — Arrival of Las Bagas — Priest of San 
Miguel — Mexican Prisoners — The Pecos ruins — Traditions 
and Legends — Anticipated Battle of the Canon — Capture of 
Santa Fe — Gen. Kearney's speech — Camp rumors, &c 58 


Grazing Detachment— American residents at Santa Fe — Her- 
kins — Gen. Kearney's Proclamation — New Mexico — Santa Fe 
— New Mexican Women — The Fandango — Lieut, Oldham — 
Deserters — The Express — A Pueblo Chief — Stamp paper .84 


Excursion to San Tome — Supposed Rebellion — Departure for Al- 
burquerque — Arrival at Del Gardo — Gen. Kearney and Capt. 
Reid — Rights of Volunteers — Error common to regular officers 
— Sham battle — The Rio del Norte — Irrigating canals — Al- 
godones — Bernalillo — Alburquerque — Peralta — Reception of 
the troops at San Tome— -Lieutenant-colonel RufF — Grand cele- 
bration — Return to the capital 99 

Territorial Laws — Mexican Printing Press— Appointments to 
office — Disease — Fort Marcy — Battle of Los Llanos — 
Election — Detachments ordered to Abiquiu and Cebolleta — 
Gilpin's Return — Colonel Doniphan and Hall — General 
Kearney and the Apache Chief — General Kearney's departure 
for California — Conduct of the Soldiers 120 


Reinforcements — Organization of the Force — The march be- 
gun — Mormon Battalion — Death of Captain Allen — Another 
Estampeda — Col. Price's arrival at Santa Fe — Col. Daugher- 
ty's regiment — Disposition of the forces in New Mexico — Ex- 


press from California — Preparations for the Chihuahua Ex- 
pedition 132 


Doniphan ordered against the Navajos — Plan of the March- 
Condition of the Troops — They take with them neither Bag- 
gage, Provision Wagons, nor Tents — Arrival at Alburquerque 
— A Squadron sent to Valverde — Death of Adjutant Butler 
— War Dance at Isleta — Express from the Merchants — Val- 
verde 143 


Colonel Jackson's Detachment — Don Chavez — Another War 
Dance — Cebolleta — Jackson's Mission — Capt. Reid's Expe- 
dition — Navajo Dance — Narbona — Capt. Reid's Letter — Re- 
turn of the Party — Habits of the Navajos — Their Wealth — 
Horses stolen by the Navajos — Their recovery 160 


Major Gilpin and the Yutas — His march against the Navajos 
— His passage over the Cordilleras — Express to Col. Doni- 
phan — The San Juan — Passage over the Tunicha mountains — 
Deep Snows — Major Gilpin departs for the Ojo Oso — Col. 
Doniphan passes the Sierra Madre — Immense Snow Storm — 
Arrival at the Bear Spring — Doniphan's Speech to the Nav- 
ajos — Their Chief's reply — Treaty concluded 175 

Return of the troops to the Del Norte — Doniphan visits Zuni — 
Treaty between the Zunis and the Navajos — Description of 
Zuni and the Zunians — The Moquis — Ancient ruin — Remarks 
on the Navajo campaign — The Navajos — Their state and con- 
dition .....191 


General Kearney's march to California — Passes the Del Norte 
at Alburquerque — Arrival at Soccorro — The Alcalde — Kit Car- 
son — The Express — Capt. Burgwin sent back — Lieut, Ingalls 



— Apaches — The Copper mines — Red-Sleeve — Sierra del Bust? 
— Difficulties — The Gilans — Lieut. Davidson — Hall of Mon- 
tezuma — The Pimo villages 204 


Barrebutt — Fable of the Pimos — Arrival at the Colorado — 
Mexican papers intercepted — The Jornada of ninety miles — 
Horse-flesh — The Mulada — Captain Gillespie — Battle of San 
Pascual—Gen. Kearney's official report 222 

Col. Stevenson — Com. Sloat and Lieutenant-colonel Fremont — 
Gen. Castro — Com. Stockton — The Revolution in California 
— Mr. Talbot— -The insurgents under Flores and Pico — Gen. 
Kearney marches upon Angeles — Battles of San Gabriel 
and the Mesa-— Capital recovered — The Capitulation 231 


Gen. Kearney and W. P. Hall — Lieutenant-colonel Cooke — 
The Mormon Battalion — Lieutenant Abert — San Bernadino 
destroyed by Apaches-— The glazed plain — Arrival in Teuson 
—The honest Pimo chief — Arrival at San Diego — Commo- 
dore Shubrick — General Kearney proceeds to Monterey — 
Governor Fremont— General Kearney and Governor Fre- 
mont — California — Its present state— General Kearney's re- 
turn to the United States » 243 


Concentration of the forces at Valverde — Mitchell's Escort — 
Passage of the great " Jornada del Muerto" — Arrival at Don- 
anna — Frank Smith and the Mexicans — Battle of Brazito — 
The Piratical Flag — Doniphan's Order — Burial of the Dead 
—False Alarm — Surrender of El Paso — Release of American 
Prisoners 255 


The Commissioners — Assessment of property— Search for arms 
— Proclamation of Governor Trias — The American merchants 



— Strength of the Pass — Captain Kirker — Kind treatment of 
the Pasenos — Resources of the valley of El Paso — Wolves — 
The Rebellion — Ramond Ortiz — The Apache Indians 271 


Departure from El Paso — Doniphan's position — Ramond Ortiz 
— Two deserters — Battalion of merchants — Passage of the 
desert — The Ojo Caliente — Marksmanship — Lake of Encen- 
illas — Dreadful conflagration— Capt. Reid's adventure — The 
reconnoissance — Plan of the march — Battle of Sacramento — 
Surrender of Chihuahua 286 


Doniphan's proclamation — The American residents — The keys 
to the Mint — Mexican morals — Chihuahua — Its attractions 
— Express to Gen. Wool — The fourteen — Arrival at Saltillo 
— Visit to the battle field of Buena Vista — Return of the 
Express 325 


Departure of the Army for Saltillo — Mexican girls — The 
Merchants — Arrival at Santa Rosalia — Mitchell's Advance — 
Guajuquilla — The Jornada — Palayo and Mapimi — Death of 
Lieutenant Jackson — San Sebastian and San Lorenzo — Mrs. 
McGoffin — Battle of El Poso — Don Manuel Ybarro — Parras 
— Review of the Army by Gen. Wool — Reception by Gen. 
Taylor 349 


Departure for New Orleans — Execution of a Guerrilla Chief — 
Mier and Camargo — Death of Sergeant Swain — Arrival at 
Reynosa — Water Transportation — The Mouth — Brazos San- 
tiago — The Troops sail for New Orleans — The Balize — Chiv- 
alry of the South — Reception in the Crescent City 372 

Discharge of the troops — Their return to Missouri — Reception 



at St. Louis — Banquets and honors — Doniphan crowned with 
a laurel wreath — Conclusion 379 


Col. Price — Disposition of the troops — The Conspiracy detected 
— Second Conspiracy — Massacre of Gov. Bent and retinue- 
Battles of Canada, Embudo, Pueblo de Taos, and the Mora — 
Death of Capts. Burg win and Hendley — Restoration of tran- 
quillity 387 


Increased vigilance of the troops — Suspicion — Battle of the Red 
river Canon — Murder of Lieut. Brown — Battle of Las Bagas 
— Six Prisoners executed — Attack on the Cienega — Indian 
outrages — Robberies — Lieut. Love — Capt. Mann— The new 
levies , 399 


Map of Mexico Fronting Title. 

Portrait of Col. Doniphan " « 

Portrait of General Price " " 

" Cut the rope," or " pull up the picket" Page 57 

Fort Bent * 83 

Plan of Santa Fe . . " 89 

Mexican Group " 92 

The Volunteer « 199 

Black-tailed Deer " 203 

Mexican Cart " 207 

Plan of Battle of Brazito " 263 

Plan of Battle of Sacramento " 303 

Captain Reid's Charge " 309 

Mexican Woodman " 333 

f« D-m-n a Mule anyhow" " 357 

Wayside Cross " 368 




Alexander William Doniphan, whose history is so 
thoroughly identified with that of Missouri, and who has 
acted so conspicuous a part in the recent war with Mexico^ 
as the leader of the unexampled Expedition against Chihua- 
hua, was born, of respectable parentage, on the 9th of July, 
1808, in Mason county, Kentucky. He first breathed the 
air of that chivalrous State. There his tender years were 
spent, and his youthful mind received its first impressions. 
Amidst Kentucky's wild, romantic mountain scenery, his 
young faculties were first begun to be developed, unfolded, 
expanded. Here, also, from maternal lips, — the lips of a 
kind, patient, persevering, and intelligent mother, — he first 
learned sentiments of honor, honesty, and patriotism. His 
mind, from the very earliest age, was fired with an admira- 
tion of the ancient orators and sages. He no less admired 
the patriots of the revolution; ever regarding them as 
bright examples, and worthy of imitation. Possessed of a 
brilliant mind, he formed his life from the best models. — 
Such is the influence which an affectionate and intelligent 
mother is capable of exerting over the destiny of her 

( 13 i 



His father, Joseph Doniphan, emigrated from Virginia to 
Kentucky amongst the earliest pioneers, having accompanied 
Daniel Boone, the great adventurer, towards the far distant 
west, on one of his early visits to the " Dark and bloody 
Ground," then covered by unbroken forests and impervious 
canebrakes. Pleased with the country, he returned to Vir- 
ginia, married, removed, and settled in Mason county. Here 
he established his fortunes; and, for mauy years, enjoyed 
uninterrupted peace and prosperity, except occasional dis- 
turbances with the Indians. At length, being seized by an 
indisposition, he died, devolving thereby the care of pro- 
viding and educating his children upon his widow. The 
responsible duty was faithfully and cheerfully discharged. 

Alexander's father dying when he was only six years of 
age, left him in charge of his mother. He was the object 
of her first and most especial regard. His education was, 
to her, a matter of the highest importance. Alexander 
being the youngest child, his mother discontinued the ma- 
nagement of her farm, when he had attained an age to be 
sent to a better school than the vicinity in which they lived 
then afforded; having herself gone to live with a married 
daughter. Having attained his ninth year, he was placed 
under the guardianship of his elder brother, George Doni- 
phan, of Augusta, Kentucky ; to whose care and kind 
attention, Colonel Doniphan acknowledges himself indebted 
for all his attainments, and whatever distinction he may 
have acquired in the world. The elder brother, therefore, 
enjoys the enviable satisfaction of knowing his efforts con- 
tributed to rear and give destiny to one of the great minds 
of the age. Indeed, Colonel Doniphan's name and fame 
are familiar to every American citizen. Not only so, — the 
world regards him with admiration, and justly; for he 
towers amongst men as the stately oak amongst his com- 
peers of the forest. 

Five years after Alexander was removed to Augusta, the 



Conferences of Ohio and Kentucky determined to locate a 
college, at some point on the Ohio river convenient to the 
citizens of each State, to be under the control of the Metho- 
dist Episcopal Church. It was located at Augusta. At 
this institution Alexander graduated, with high honors, in 
1827, in the 19th year of his age. He then read history, 
with great advantage, for six months, and in the spring of 
1828 commenced the study of the law, under the supervi- 
sion of that learned, profound, and able lawyer, Martin 
Marshall, of Augusta. He obtained a license to practise as 
an attorney, before the courts, in the fall of 1829 ; and, 
having spent the winter of that year in traveling over the 
southwestern and western States, determined to locate him- 
self at Lexington, Missouri. Here he remained, and en- 
joyed a lucrative practice for three years, during which he 
obtained considerable celebrity as an able and eloquent law- 
yer, and established his reputation as an intelligent and 
useful citizen. In 1833 he removed to Liberty, in Upper 
Missouri, more from its healthful situation and its salubrity, 
than from any other cause. He still resides in this romantic 
and pleasant village.* 

* When any one inquires of Colonel Doniphan, why be does not 
choose to live in a more considerable town than Liberty, he gives them 
Plutarch's reply : " If I should remove hence, the place would be of still 
less note than it now is." 

Like Epaminondas, the great Boeotian, Colonel Doniphan has mostly 
lived in a house neither splendidly furnished, nor painted, nor white- 
washed, but plain as the rest of his neighbors. 

While commanding the army, Colonel Doniphan rarely wore any 
military dress ; so he could not be distinguished, by a stranger, from one 
of the men whom he commanded. He fared as the soldiers, and often 
prepared his own meals. Any private man in his camp might approach 
him with the greatest freedom, and converse on whatever topics it 
pleased him ; for he was always rejoiced to gain information from any 
one, though a common soldier. Whoever had business, might approach 
his tent and wake him, when asleep ; for he neither had a body-guard, 
nor persons to transact his business for him. 



From this period of his history, his success at the bar 
has been almost unexampled, in Missouri. Immediately 
upon his locating in Liberty, a heavy business flowed into 
his hands. The fame which he had previously acquired, 
as an able advocate and a sound lawyer, gave him advan- 
tages that but few can enjoy. Never did Pericles gain a 
more complete ascendant, over the minds of the Athenians, 
than Colonel Doniphan, by his courteous conduct as a citi- 
zen, his capacity as a lawyer, his talent as a legislator, and 
his powers as an orator, has attained over the people of 
Upper Missouri. Although a majority of the people of 
Missouri are politically opposed to him, no one man enjoys 
more of their confidence and esteem, as a patriot and a 

About this period of his life, he was united in marriage 
to the amiable and intelligent daughter of Colonel John 
Thornton, of Clay county. He has two little cherub boys, 
whose correct training, and proper education, appear to be 
matter of the highest concern and of first-rate importance 
with him. Therefore, instead of grasping after political 
preferment, for the purpose of satisfying a selfish and sordid 
ambition, we see him endeavoring to accomplish the noblest 
of earthly objects — the proper training and instruction of 
his children. To this end he is often seen in the district 
schools, as well as in the high school of the town, encou- 
raging, by his presence, the young developing minds, and 
pointing them to the high rewards of industry and perse- 
verance. The hero of Sacramento is now a trustee of the 
school in his own village ! 

He has long and honorably held the office of brigadier- 
general, in the militia of Missouri. In 1838, Gov. Boggs 
ordered a strong military force to proceed to Far West, the 
headquarters of the Mormon sect, and quell the disturbances 
and insurrectionary movements which had been excited by 
their Great Prophet, Jo Smith. This fanaticism and in* 


subordination threatened to embroil the whole country. In 
a short time, troops were in motion from all parts of the 
State. Military preparations were being actively pushed 
forward by the Prophet, to meet the emergency. A san- 
guinary slaughter was expected to ensue. Gen. Doniphan, 
with his brigade (belonging to the division of Major Gen* 
Lucas), rendered important service in overawing the insur- 
gent forces, and quelling the disturbances without bloodshed. 
— This was General Doniphan's first campaign. 

In all the relations of social and private life, where a 
man's true character is best known, and where, lamentable 
to tell ! most of our ostensibly great men are most sadly 
deficient, Colonel Doniphan's conduct is most exemplary. 
Here his virtues shine brightest. As a husband, he is affec- 
tionate ; as a father, he rules his household with reason and 
decision. A just and wise economy marks the administra- 
tion of his family affairs. As a neighbor, he is sociable and 
pleasant; as a citizen, benevolent and extensively useful. 
In all his dealings with mankind, he is just and honorable. 
He is interesting and fluent in conversation. His manner 
and whole deportment are prepossessing ; and one rarely 
makes his acquaintance, without forming a lasting attach- 
ment for him. As an orator, he possesses great and shining 
powers. His address is of the most agreeable nature ; his 
air commanding ; his language full and flowing ; his gestures 
graceful; his enunciation distinct; his voice shrill and 
sonorous ; his arguments convincing ; his mind comprehen- 
sive and clear; his figures and illustrations happy and 
natural ; his fancy not only brilliant, but dazzlingly vivid ; — 
finally, when excited, the tide of his eloquence is almost 
irresistible. He is the very fullness of physical and intel- 
lectual vigor, and possesses, in an eminent degree, the origi- 
nal elements of greatness. His best speeches have always 
been delivered extemporaneously — much of the fire and 
pathos being lost, in the attempt to commit them to paper. 



He is not a member of any church, society, or fraternity ; 
but, in his views, is tolerant of all, and is the devoted friend 
of universal education. In stature, Colonel Doniphan 
is upwards of six feet tall, well proportioned, altogether 
dignified in his appearance, and gentlemanly in his manners. 
His features are bold, his bright hazel eye dazzlingly keen 
and expressive, and his massive forehead is of the finest and 
most classic mould. 

Unambitious of political advancement, he has never 
sought that unsubstantial, popular applause, which some- 
times elevates men to stations far above their abilities and 
merits, and as often consigns them to useless obscurity, ever 
regarding fame as valuable and lasting only when based on 
virtue and substantial worth. For many years, having assi- 
duously devoted his time and talent to his profession as a 
lawyer, he has acquired not only an enviable distinction 
amongst men, but has raised himself to ease and affluence. 
He commenced the world without fortune, and without the 
aid of powerful friends, to relieve him from those embar- 
rassments which every man is destined to encounter who 
relies upon his own energy for success. But, by dint of 
perseverance, and a clear and well balanced judgment, he has 
arrived at both fame and fortune. 

Never having been desirous of engaging permanently in 
political life, he has constantly refused to become a candi- 
date for office, except on two occasions, notwithstanding he 
considers the public service to be the most honorable and 
exalted, and worthy to command the very best talent the 
country can afford. In 1836 he represented his county by 
an almost unanimous vote, although there was then a small 
majority in the county politically opposed to him. His 
success, in this election, was owing to his personal popu- 
larity and his great weight of character. In 1840, during 
that exciting political contest between Gen. Harrison and 
Mr. Van Buren, his political friends, in view of his great 



abilities as a stump-orator, almost forced him to take the 
field as a candidate once more — it being looked to as a test- 
race, to decide the political complexion of the county. He 
was again elected by a large majority. While in the Legis- 
lature, he distinguished himself for his boldness, indepen- 
dence, liberality of sentiment, and faithfulness as a repre- 
sentative. From this period he has pertinaciously refused 
to become a candidate for any office whatever, frequently 
declaring, in his public addresses, that he neither expects 
nor desires ever to be a candidate again.* He has made 
these declarations, not that he feels a contempt for the public 
service (for no one better comprehends the value of liberty, 
or regards the prosperity of the country with more interest 
than Colonel Doniphan), but through a modest willingness 
to see the high functions of the government discharged by 
others, who have made these things the study of their whole 

In 1846, when hostilities were declared to exist between 
the United States and Mexico, and the Executive proposed 
to send an invading army across the plains to the province 
of New Mexico, Gen. Doniphan actively interested himself 
in raising the requisite number of men to accompany the 
expedition. This expedition was to be under command of 
Colonel Kearney. To hasten the preparations for the de- 
parture of the expedition, General Doniphan visited many 
of the counties in Upper Missouri, harangued the people, 
and, in a very short space of time, the complement of men 
was raised. They assembled at Fort Leavenworth, and 
were there mustered into service. General Doniphan had 
volunteered as a private, in the company from his own 
county, commanded by his brother-in-law, Captain O. P. 
Moss. On the 18th of June, 1846, he was elected Colonel 

* In his speech at Independence, on the 29th of July, 1847, he de- 
clared he had not been a candidate for office for " seven tears," and 
did not expect to be for the next " seventy-seven," to come. 



of the 1st Regiment of Missouri Cavalry, over his opponent, 
General J. W. Price, by a respectable majority. No fitter 
man could have been chosen ; for his sagacity planned, his 
judgment conducted, and his energy, together with that of 
his officers and men. accomplished the most wonderful 
campaign of any age or country. This was done without 
an outfit, without money, and almost without ammunition, 
by the citizen-commander of citizen-soldiers. The history 
of this expedition will be Colonel Doniphan's most lasting 
monument. — His deeds will ever live to praise him. 



Origin of the War with Mexico— Hostilities begun — Act of 
Congress to raise troops — Plan of invasion — Causes which 
justify the war — Army of the west — Gov. Edwards' requisi- 
tion — Troops rendezvous at Fort Leavenworth — Drill exer- 
cises—Election of field officers — Strength of the expedition — • 
Ladies visit the fort — Presentation of flags — Two squadrons 
dispatched in pursuit of Seyres and Armijo— Departure of the 
expedition — March conducted by detachments — Scene at the 
Stranger — The Kansas — Shawnees — Bewilderment — Bluff 
hill — Santa Fe trail — Fiery steeds — Description of troops com- 
posing the Army of the West. 

The passage, by the American Congress, of the 
Resolutions of Annexation, by which the Republic of 
Texas was incorporated into the Union as one of the 
States, having merged her sovereignty into that of our 
own government, was the prime cause which led to 
the recent war with Mexico. However, the more 
immediate cause of the war may be traced to the 
occupation, by the American army, of the strip of dis- 
puted territory lying between the Nueces and the Rio 
Grande. Bigoted and insulting Mexico, always 
prompt to manifest her hostility towards this govern- 
ment, sought the earliest plausible pretext for declaring 
war against the United States. This declaration of 

(21 ) 


doniphan's expedition. 

war by the Mexican government (which bore date in 
April 1846), was quickly and spiritedly followed by 
a manifesto from our Congress at Washington, an- 
nouncing that " a state of war exists between Mexico 
and the United States." Soon after this counter- 
declaration, the Mexicans crossed the Rio Grande, in 
strong force, headed by the famous generals, Arista 
and Ampudia. This force, as is well known, was 
defeated at Palo Alto on the 8th, and at Resaca de 
la Palma on the 9th of May, 1846, by the troops 
under command of Major-general Taylor, and re- 
pulsed with great slaughter. The whole Union was 
soon in a state of intense excitement. General Tay- 
lor's recent and glorious victories were the constant 
theme of universal admiration. The war had actually 
begun, and that, too, in a manner which demanded 
immediate and decisive action. The United States' 
Congress passed an act, about the middle of May, 
1846, authorizing the President to call into the field 
50,000 volunteer troops, designed to operate against 
Mexico at three distinct points, namely, the southern 
wing or the "Army of Occupation," commanded by 
Major-general Taylor, to penetrate directly into the heart 
of the country, the column under Brigadier-general 
Wool, or the " Army of the Centre," to operate against 
the city of Chihuahua, and the expedition under the 
command of Colonel, now Brigadier-general Kearney, 
known as the " Army of the West," to direct its march 
upon the city of Santa Fe. This was the original plan 
of operation against Mexico. But subsequently the 
plan was changed; Maj. Gen. Scott, with a well ap- 
pointed army, was sent to Vera Cruz ; Gen. Wool ef- 
fected a junction with Gen. Taylor at Saltillo, and 



General Kearney divided his force into three separate 
commands ; the first he led in person to the distant 
shores of the Pacific ; a detachment of near 1000 Mis- 
souri volunteers, under command of Col. A. W. Doni- 
phan, was ordered to make a descent upon the State 
of Chihuahua, expecting to join Gen- Wool's division 
at the capital ; while the greater part was left as a gar- 
rison at Santa Fe, under command of Col. Sterling 
Price. The greatest eagerness was manifested by the 
citizens of the United States to engage in the war ; to 
redress our wrongs ; to repel an insulting foe ; and to 
vindicate our national honor, and the honor of our oft- 
insulted flag. The call of the President was promptly 
responded to ; but of the 50,000 volunteers at first 
authorized to be raised, the services of only about 
17,000 were required. 

The cruel and inhuman butchery of Col. Fannin and 
his men, all Americans ; the subsequent and indiscrim- 
inate murder of all Texans who unfortunately fell into 
Mexican hands ; the repeated acts of cruelty and in- 
justice perpetrated upon the persons and property of 
American citizens residing in the northern Mexican 
provinces ; the imprisonment of American merchants 
without the semblance of a trial by jury, and the for- 
cible seizure and confiscation of their goods ; the rob- 
bing of American travelers and tourists in the Mexi- 
can country of their passports and other means of safe- 
ty, whereby in certain instances they were for a time 
deprived of their liberty; the forcible detention of 
American citizens, sometimes in prison and at other 
times in free custody ; the recent blockade of the 
Mexican ports against the United States' trade; the re- 
peated insults offered our national flag ; the contempt- 

24 doniphan's expedition. 

uous, ill-treatment of our ministers, some of whom 
were spurned with their credentials ; the supercilious 
and menacing air uniformly manifested towards this 
government, which, with characteristic forbearance 
and courtesy, has endeavored to maintain a friendly 
understanding ; her hasty and unprovoked declaration 
of war against the United States ; her army's uncere- 
monious passage of the Rio Grande in strong force 
and with hostile intention ; her refusal to pay indem- 
nities ; and a complication of less evils, all of which 
have been perpetrated by the Mexican authorities or 
by unauthorized Mexican citizens, in a manner which 
clearly evinced the determination on the part of Mex- 
ico, to terminate the amicable relations hitherto sub- 
sisting between the two countries : — are the causes 
which justify the war. Are not these sufficient? Or 
should we have forborne until the catalogue of offen- 
ces was still deeper dyed with infamous crimes, and 
until the blood of our brothers, friends, and consan- 
guinity, like that of the murdered Abel, should cry 
to us from the ground ? Who that has the spirit, the 
feelings, and the pride of an American, would willing- 
ly see his country submit to such a complication of 
injury and insult? In truth, the only cause of regret 
is, that the war was not prosecuted with more vigor, 
energy, and promptitude, from the commencement. — 
This, perhaps, would have prevented the effusion of 
so much blood, and the expenditure of so much trea- 

It is the " Army of the West" that commands our 
immediate attention. About the middle of May, Gov. 
Edwards, of Missouri, made a requisition on the State 
for volunteers to join the expedition to Santa Fe. This 



expedition was to be conducted by Col. Stephen W. 
Kearney, of the 1st Dragoons U. S. Army, a very able 
and skillful officer. The troops designed for this ser- 
vice were required to rendezvous at Fort Leavenworth, 
situated on the right bank of the Missouri river, twen- 
ty-two miles above the mouth of the Kansas, which 
was the place of out-fit and departure for the western 
army. The "St. Louis Legion, "* commanded by Col. 
Easton, had already taken its departure for the Army 
of Occupation. Corps of mounted volunteers were 
speedily organized in various counties throughout the 
State in conformity to the Governor's requisition, and 
company officers elected. By the 5th of June, the 
companies began to arrive at the Fort, and were mus- 
tered into the service of the United States, and lettered 
in the order of their arrival. The process of muster- 
ing the men into the United States' service, and of val- 
uing their horses was entrusted to the late, lamented 
Capt. Allen of the 1st Dragoons. Gen. Kearney had 
discretionary orders from the War Department as to 
the number of men which should compose his divis- 
ion, and what proportion of them should be cavalry 
and what infantry. Owing to the great distance across 
the plains, cavalry was deemed the better description 
of troops, and accordingly the whole western army, 
with the exception of one separate battalion, consis- 
ted of mounted men. For the space of twenty days, 
during which time portions of the volunteers remained 
at the fort, rigid drill twice per day, once before and 
after noon, was required to be performed by them, — 
in order to render their services the more efficient. 

*This corps was discharged at the expiration of six months. 


doniphan's expedition. 

These martial exercises, upon a small prairie adjacent 
to the fort, appropriately styled by the volunteers, 
" Campus Martis," consisting of the march by sections 
of four, the sabre exercises, the charge, the rally, and 
other cavalry tactics, doubtless proved subsequently 
to be of the most essential service. It is due to the 
officers of the regular army, by whom the volunteer 
companies were principally carried through the drill ex- 
ercises, to state that their instructions were always com- 
municated in the kindest and most gentlemanly manner. 

The election of field officers for the 1st Regiment 
Missouri Mounted Volunteers, was justly regarded as 
a matter of very great importance ; as in the event of 
General Kearney's death or disability, the Colonel of 
that regiment would be entitled to the command of the 
expedition. On the 18th of June, the full comple- 
ment of companies having arrived, which were to 
compose the 1st Regiment, an election was holden, 
superintended by Gen. Ward, of Platte, which resulted 
in the selection of Alexander William Doniphan, a 
private in the company from Clay county, an eminent 
lawyer, — a man who had distinguished himself as a 
Brigadier General in the campaign of 1838, against the 
Mormons at Far West, and who had honorably served 
his countrymen as a legislator, — for Colonel of the 
Regiment. C. F. Ruff was chosen Lt. Colonel, and 
Wm. Gilpin, Major. Lt. Col. Ruff and Major Gilpin 
had both volunteered as privates, the former in the 
company from Clay, and the latter in that from Jackson 

The 1st Regiment of Missouri mounted volunteers 
was composed of eight companies, A, B, C, D, E, F, G 
and H, respeccively from the counties of Jackson, La- 



fayette, Clay, Saline, Franklin, Cole, Howard and 
Calaway, commanded by Capts. Waldo, Walton, Moss, 
Reid, Stephenson, Parsons, Jackson, and Rodgers, 
numbering 856 men. The battalion of light artillery 
consisted of two companies from St. Louis under 
Capts. Weightman and Fischer, numbering near 250 
men, with Major Clark as its field officer. The battal- 
ion of Infantry from the counties of Cole and Platte, 
respectively commanded by Capts. Angney and Mur- 
phy, the former being the senior officer, numbered 145 
men. The Laclede Rangers from St. Louis, under 
command of Capt. Hudson, 107 in number, attached 
to the 1st Dragoons, whose strength was 300, — com- 
posed the entire force of Col. Kearney. Thus it will 
appear that the advance of the Western Army under 
the immediate command of Col. Kearney, consisted 
of 1,658 men, and sixteen pieces of ordnance, 12 six 
pounders, and 4 twelve pound howitzers. 

When this column was upon the eve of departure 
for the distant borders of New Mexico, the people of 
upper Missouri collected in crowds at the fort to bid 
their sons, brothers, and relatives, adieu, before they 
launched upon the boundless plains of the west. The 
ushering of an army upon the green bosom of the 
great prairies, wdth pennons gaily streaming in the 
breeze, is a sight no less interesting in its nature, and 
there can be no less solicitude felt for its safety, than 
is manifested at the departure of a fleet for some dis- 
tant land, when, with spreading sails, the vessels launch 
upon the restless, heaving deep. Before the expedi- 
tion set out, the patriotic ladies from the adjacent 
counties, on several occasions, came to the Fort, (on 
board the steamboats which were then almost daily 


doniphan's expedition. 

arriving and departing,) to present their countrymen 
with Flags, wrought by their own hands, — at once the 
token of their regard, and the Star-lighted emblem of 
their country's liberty. On the presentation of these 
flags, the ladies usually delivered addresses, which 
seemed to inspire every heart with courage, and nerve 
every arm for the dangers of the campaign. On the 
23d day of June, a large deputation of ladies from 
Clay, arrived at the Fort, on the Missouri Mail, with 
the finest flag, perhaps, of which the expedition could 
boast, and presented it to Capt. O. P. Moss, of their 
county, accompanied by the following patriotic ad- 
dress, delivered by Mrs. Cunningham : 

" The ladies of Liberty and its vicinity have deputed 
me, as one of their number, to present this flag to the 
volunteers from Clay county, commanded by Capt. 
Oliver Perry Moss, — and I now, in their name, pre- 
sent it to you, as a token of their esteem for the manly 
and patriotic manner in which you have shown your 
willingness to sustain the honor of our common coun- 
try, and to redress the indignities offered to its flag. 

" In presenting to you this token of our regard and 
esteem, we wish you to remember that some of us 
have sons, some brothers, and all of us either friends 
or relatives among you, and that w T e would rather hear 
of your falling in honorable warfare, than to see you 
return sullied with crime, or disgraced by cowardice. 
We trust then, that your conduct, in all circumstances, 
will be worthy the noble, intelligent and patriotic na- 
tion whose cause you have so generously volunteered 
to defend ; your deportment will be such as will secure 
to you the highest praise and the warmest gratitude of 
the American people ; — in a word — let your motto be 


c Death before dishonor. 5 And to the gracious pro- 
tection and guidance of Him who rules the destinies 
of nations, we fervently commend you." 

The captain modestly received the Flag, in a brief 
and pathetic response. Its motto was, The love of 


The above specimen is given as illustrative of the 
enthusiastic and uncalculating spirit of the western 
people, when the country calls them to vindicate her 
national honor — without counting the cost, either of 
treasure or of blood, they fly to arms, impelled by pa- 
triotism, and act upon the principle "we are for our 
country, right or wrong." 

About this time, Capts. Waldo and Reid, of the 
volunteers, and Capts. Moore and Burgwin, of the 1st 
dragoons U. S. Army, were dispatched by Col. Kear- 
ney, with their respective companies, upon the route 
to Santa Fe, with orders to pursue with all possible 
vigor, and capture the trains of Messrs. Speyers and 
Armijo, of the trading caravan, who w T ere far in ad- 
vance of the other merchants, and who, it was under- 
stood, were furnished with British and Mexican pass- 
ports, and were endeavoring to supply the enemy with 
munitions of war. The pursuit was vain, however, 
as the sequel will develop. 

The organization of the expedition was completed 
by the appointment to office of the following gentle- 
men, viz : Capt. Riche to be sutler to the dragoons ; 
C. A. Perry to be sutler, G. M. Butler, adjutant, Dr. 
Geo. Penn principal surgeon, and T. M. Morton and 
I. Vaughn, assistant surgeons, of the 1st Regiment. 

About one hundred wagons loaded with provisions 
for the army, having already been sent forward upon 


dontphan's expedition. 

the road, and other means of transportation being fur- 
nished for whatever was thought necessary upon the 
expedition, by McKissack, quartermaster, on the 26th 
day of June, 1846, the main body of the western ar- 
my commenced its march over the great Prairies or 
Plains, which extend from the western border of Mis- 
souri to the confines of New Mexico, a distance of 
near one thousand miles. /The annual caravan or 
merchant train, of 414 wagons, heavily laden with 
dry goods for the markets of Santa Fe and Chihuahua, 
lined the road for miles. J Independence was the point 
of departure for this army of merchants. Col. Kear- 
ney and the rear, consisting partly of volunteers and 
partly of the 1st dragoons, soon followed, having left 
the Fort on the 29th of the same month. 

The march of the " Army of the West," as it en- 
tered upon the great prairies, presented a scene of the 
most intense and thrilling interest. Such a scene was 
indeed worthy the pencil of the ablest artist, or the 
most graphic pen of the historian. The boundless 
plains, lying in ridges of wavy green not unlike the 
ocean, seemed to unite with the heavens in the distant 
horizon. As far as vision could penetrate, the long 
files of cavalry, the gay fluttering of banners, and 
the canvas-covered wagons of the merchant train glis- 
tening like banks of snow in the distance, might be 
seen winding their tortuous way over the undulating 
surface of the prairies. In thus witnessing the march 
of an army over the regions of uncultivated nature, 
which had hitherto been the pasture of the buffalo and 
the hunting ground of the wily savage, and where the 
eagle and the stars and stripes never before greeted 
the breeze, the heart could but swell with senti- 


ments of honest pride, mingled with the most lively 

There are many obstacles which impede the prog- 
ress of an army. There was no road, nor even a path 
leading from Fort Leavenworth into the regular Santa 
Fe trail. The army therefore steered its course south- 
westerly with the view of intersecting the main Santa 
Fe trace, at or near the Narrows, sixty-five miles west 
of Independence. In accomplishing this, many deep 
ravines, and creeks with high and rugged banks, were 
to be encountered. The banks must be dug down, 
the asperities leveled, bridges built, and roads con- 
structed, before the wagons could pass. All this re- 
quired time and labor. The heat was often excessive ; 
the grass was tall and rank ; and the earth in many 
places so soft that the heavily loaded wagons would 
sink almost up to the axle upon the level prairie.— 
The men were frequently compelled to dismount and 
drag them from the mire with their hands. The mules 
and other animals being mostly unused to the harness, 
often became refractory and balky. Numbers of wa- 
gons daily broke down. Time was required to make 
repairs. Hence the march was, of necessity, both 
slow and tedious. 

*In a letter addressed by the author to the editor of the Tri- 
bune, a paper published in Liberty, about the time the expedition 
set forward, the following language was employed : " There is 
a novelty in this anabasis or invasion of Cols. Kearney and Doni- 
phan. For the first time since the creation, the starred and 
striped banner of a free people is being borne over almost one 
thousand miles of trackless waste, and the principles of repub- 
licanism and civil liberty are about to be proclaimed to a nation 
fast sinking in slavery's arms; and fast closing her eyes upon 
the last expiring lights of religion, science and liberty." 


doniphan's expedition. 

On the 28th, the advanced battalion under command 
of Lieutenant-colonel Ruff, arrived upon the banks of 
the Stranger creek, where it remained until the 30th. 
Here also was presented a scene of some interest. — 
Some of the men were reclining at ease in their tents, 
beguiling time with a novelette or a newspaper ; some 
were engaged in scouring and whetting their sabres, 
as if they already anticipated an attack from the Mexi- 
cans ; others again were bathing their bodies in the 
limpid stream, or drawing the scaly fish to the shore. 
The Stranger is a branch of the Kansas, and drains 
one of the most fertile and picturesque districts of 
country over which the army passed. 

About noon on the 30th, we arrived upon the banks 
of the Kansas river. This is a deep, rapid, yet beau- 
tiful stream, three hundred and fifty yards wide, and 
more than five hundred miles in length. It is no doubt 
navigable by steamboats of the smaller class, for a 
considerable distance above its mouth, without diffi- 
culty. We crossed the river in boats without loss or 
accident, and encamped for the night on the west bank 
among the friendly Shawnees. Some of the Shaw- 
nees have large farms, and as fine fields of corn as are 
to be met with in the States. They also have plenty 
of poultry, domestic animals, fine gardens, and many 
of the luxuries of civilized life. Here we obtained 
milk and butter ; also peas, beans, potatoes, and other 
vegetables* The country between fort Leavenworth 
and the Kansas, is very fine ; the soil is exceedingly 
fertile, — vegetation is exuberant ; and in many places 
the timber is tall and stately. Bold, fresh running 
springs gush from the ledges of limestone rock, and 
every river and creek is literally alive with the " finny 



tribe." It is destined perhaps at no distant day to 
sustain a dense and intelligent population. What a 
cheering reflection, that these beautiful ridges and out- 
stretched plains will ere long be dotted with the cities, 
villages, and habitations of civilized life ! — that culti- 
vated fields, surcharged with rich grains, will soon 
succeed to the seas of waving verdure which now lux- 
uriously cover the earth ! and that where now is heard 
the scream of the wild panther, and the startling yell 
of the savage, will soon become the busy scene of 
industry and domestic happiness ! 

On the 1st of July, the battalion continued its march 
in a southwesterly direction, to intersect the road lead- 
ing from Independence to Santa Fe. After a toilsome 
march of near fifteen miles, without a guide, through 
the tall prairie grass and matted pea- vines, over hill 
and dale, mound and mountain, in our bewilderment, 
sometimes directing our course to the southward, some- 
times to the westward, we at length struck upon the 
old Santa Fe trace, and encamped for the night near 
the blackjack grove or the Narrows. In our progress 
to-day, we encountered a formidable, precipitous and 
almost impassable hill or bluff, consisting of a solid 
ledge of limestone, which we were compelled to sur- 
mount, as it was impossible to avoid it by turning ei- 
ther to the right or the left. The ascent was steep, 
rugged, and at least two hundred feet in height, being 
the projecting spur of the high table land which di- 
vides the waters of the Kansas from those of the Osage. 
The wagons were principally drawn up this abrupt 
precipice by the power of hand, ropes being attached 
to them on both sides. More than one hundred men 
were often employed at once in drawing a heavily 


doniphan's expedition. 

loaded government wagon to the summit of the hill. 
The heat was excessive. 

It may be proper here to observe, that for the sake 
of convenience in procuring supplies of fuel and 
water, which can only be obtained at certain points, 
in crossing the Great Plains, Col. Kearney very pru- 
dently adopted the plan of conducting the march by 
separate detachments. These detachments (for con- 
venience in traveling) generally consisted of a squadron 
of two or three companies, or of an entire battalion. 
The companies of volunteers were generally composed 
of 114 men each, including commissioned officers. 
Thus the march was chiefly conducted to the borders 
of New Mexico, or the boundary line which separates 
between Mexico and the United States. 

Col. Doniphan and Maj. Gilpin, with the second 
battalion, and Col. Kearney, with the battalion of 
artillery, the corps of field and topographical engin- 
eers, and a small squadron of volunteers and dragoons, 
followed closely in our rear; nothing of historical 
moment having occurred up to this time, since their 
departure from Fort Leavenworth. Numerous trains 
of government wagons continued to be dispatched 
from the fort upon the road to Santa Fe. Fort Bent, 
on the Arkansas, nearly six hundred miles west of 
Independence, was, however, looked forward to as 
the first point of general rendezvous for all the differ- 
ent detachments, and for the government trains. This 
post was subsequently converted into a provision 
depot for the United States' government. 

The practicability of marching a large army ovet* 
the waste, uncultivated, uninhabited, prairie regions 
of the west was universally regarded as problematical. 



But the matter has been tested. The experiment 
proved completely successful. Provisions, (chiefly 
bread-stuffs, salt, &c.,) were conveyed in wagons, and 
beef-cattle driven along for the use of the men. The 
animals subsisted entirely by grazing. To secure 
them from straying off at night, they were either driven 
into corrals formed of the wagons, or tethered to an 
iron picket driven into the ground about fifteen inches. 

At the outset of the expedition many laughable 
scenes took place. Our horses were generally wild, 
fiery, and ungovernable ; wholly unused to military 
trappings and equipments. Amidst the fluttering of 
banners, the sounding of the bugles, the rattling of 
artillery, the clattering of sabres, and cooking utensils, 
some of the horses took fright and scampered, pell- 
mell, w T ith rider and arms, over the wide prairie. 
Rider, arms and accoutrements, saddles, saddle-bags, 
tin-cups, and coffee-pots, were sometimes left far be- 
hind in the chase. No very serious or fatal accident, 
however, occurred from this cause. All was right 
again as soon as the affrighted animals were recovered. 

The " Army of the West, M was, perhaps, composed 
of as fine material as any other body of troops then 
in the field. The volunteer corps consisted almost 
entirely of the young men of the country; generally 
of the very first families of the State. All parties 
were united in one common cause for the vindication 
of the national honor. Every calling and profession 
contributed its share. There might be seen under 
arms, in the ranks, the lawyer, the doctor, the professor, 
the student, the legislator, the farmer, the mechanic, 
and artisans of every description, all united as a band 
of brothers to defend the rights and honor of their 

36 doniphan's expedition. 

country ; to redress her wrongs and avenge her insults. 
This blooming host of young life, the elite of Missouri, 
was full of ardor, full of spirit, full of generous en- 
thusiasm, burning for the battle field, and panting for 
the rewards of honorable victory. They were prompted 
to this gallant discharge of duty, and prepared to 
breast every storm of adversity, by the remembrance 
of the dear pledges of affection they left behind them; 
their mothers, their sisters, their young brides, their 
aged fathers, who, they knew would receive them 
with outstretched arms, if they returned triumphant 
from many a well contested field with the laurels of 
victory ; but who, they were equally certain, would 
frown with indignation upon him who, in the hour of 
battle, would desert the flag of his country. Their 
chivalry failed them not. 


View of the Army on the Prairies — Singular phenomenon- 
Attention to horses— Fourth of July — Council Grove — Its 
locale — Diamond Springs — Government trains — Interesting 
inquiry — Prairie fuel — Musquitoes and the black -gnat — Ex- 
press from Col. Doniphan — Altercation between officers — 
Chavez — His tragical end — The mirage — Sand-hills — The 
Big Arkansas — Buffalo — Pawnee Rock — Forces re-united at 
the Pawnee river — Difficult passage — The Infantry — Major 
Howard — Charge upon the buffalo — Reptiles and insects — 
Flowers — Prairie dog villages — Death of Leesley — Attach- 
ment of men to their horses — Appearance of the Army — 
Fitzpatrick, the mountaineer — The report— Mexican spies 
taken — Army encamped in the Mexican territory. 

All was now fairly upon the great Santa Fe road 
which led to the enemy's country. At break of day 
on the 2d of July, the reveillee was sounded. The army 
was on the march ere the first beams of the morning 
sun had kissed the glittering dew drops from the 
prairie grass, bearing aloft their streaming flags to the 
breeze, with their " broad stripes and bright stars, " 
and " E Pluribus Unum. " As the troops moved off 
majestically over the green prairie, they presented the 
most martial and animating sight. The long lines 
stretched over miles of level plain, or wound serpen- 
tinely over the beautifully undulating hills, with guns 
and sabres glittering in the sheen of the rising sun, 
while the American eagle seemed to spread his broad 
pinions, and westward bear the principles of republican 



doniphan's expedition. 

The following interesting phenomenon was related 
to the author by one who declares that he was an eye- 
witness of the fact, and that twenty-eight others will 
testify to the truth of his declaration. "Early in the 
spring of 1846, before it w r as known, or even conjec- 
tured, that a state of war would be declared to exist 
between this Government and Mexico, 29 traders, on 
their way from Santa Fe to Independence, beheld, just 
after a storm, and a little before sun-set, a perfectly 
distinct image of the " bird of liberty, " the American 
eagle, on the disc of the sun. When they beheld the 
interesting sight, they simultaneously, and almost in- 
voluntarily exclaimed that in less than twelve months 
the eagle of liberty would spread his broad pinions 
over the plains of the west, and that the flag of our 
country would wave over the cities of New Mexico 
and Chihuahua. " The prediction has been literally 
and strikingly verified, although the story is, doubtless, 
more beautiful, than true. Quite as much credit is 
due to it, however, as to the wonderful story about the 
chariots of fire, which the Romans are said to have 
seen in the heavens after the assassination of Caesar by 
Brutus and Cassius in the Roman senate. 

A march over the great plains is attended with a re- 
currence of pretty much the same scenes, from day to 
day. The same boundless green — the emerald prai- 
ries — seems to spread out before you ; the same bright 
heavens are above ; the same solid earth of uniform 
surface beneath ; or if the monotony be at all broken, 
it is by the gradual change of the broad prairie into a 
succession of gently rolling hills, as when the unruffled 
bosom of the ocean is heaved into waves by the storm. 
Occasionally the dull scene is relieved by the appear- 



ance of a rill or brook, winding among the undulations 
of the prairie, skirted by clumps and groves of trees, 
or by the wild sunflower, pink, or rose, which seem 
to blossom only to cheer with their mellifluous odors 
the waste around them. Some witty remark, or lively 
song, will often create a hearty laugh ; the feeling 
will, perhaps, be communicated from one end of the 
line to the other. In this way, the greatest good hu- 
mor and most cheerful flow of spirits are kept up con- 
tinually on the march. An army is always cheerful 
and frolicsome. 

On the plains our horses were the objects of our 
most especial attention. Whoever was so unfortunate 
as to lose his charger, was necessitated to continue the 
march on foot, or drive a wagon, both of which were 
unpleasant to the volunteer soldier, to say nothing of 
the chagrin of losing his place in his company as a 
cavalier. We therefore secured our horses with all 
possible care at night, to guard against escapes. Great 
prudence was also necessary in riding cautiously, and 
grazing carefully, to prevent the stock from failing on 
the road. Chasing deer, antelope and buffalo on the 
plain will ruin a horse and speedily unfit him for mil- 
itary service. When a soldier, by ill luck happened 
to lose his horse, he would purchase another at almost 
any cost, if there chanced to be a surplus one in camp. 
His situation enabled him fully to appreciate the force 
of the expression which Shakspeare puts into the 
mouth of King Richard, "A kingdom for a horse P % 
No wonder then that Alexander wept when Bucephalus 

The 4th of July, independence day, seemed to in- 
spire the troops with new life and cheerfulness ;— al- 


doniphan's expedition. 

though upon the wide prairies of the west, we could 
not forget to commemorate the annual return of the 
hallowed day that gave birth to our national liberty, 
Though on the march all day, and in the midst of a 
boundless solitude, with nothing for the eye to rest 
upon save the heaven above or the solid earth beneath, 
and none of the lovely objects of home around us, 
and none of the festivities spread before us, which 
usually greeted us on the anniversary of our liberty, 
yet our bosoms swelled with the same noble impulses 
and the same quenchless love of freedom, which ani- 
mated the breasts of our ancestors of '76, and caught 
inspiration from the memory of their achievements. 
Ever and anon the enthusiastic shout, the loud huzza, 
and the animating Yankee Doodle, were heard in honor 
of independence day. After a toilsome march of 
twenty-seven miles, upon the green, boundless plain, 
exposed to the heated rays of an almost vertical sun, 
we pitched our tents at sunset on the banks of Bluff 
creek, where we found plenty of cool spring water, 
and an abundant supply of grass and fuel. The greatest 
good humor prevailed in camp. 

A march of twelve miles on the 5th, brought us to 
the famous Council Grove, a place remarkable in the 
history of the Santa Fe trade, and distinguished above 
all others as being the point of general rendezvous 
for traders, trappers, mountaineers, and others, of 
border life. Here, timbers for repairing wagons which 
may fail on the road across the great plains, are gen- 
erally procured, this being the last grove where good 
timber can be obtained on the route. In this pleasant 
and romantic valley, the army detained two days for 
this purpose. The Council Grove is nothing more 



than a forest of timber, about one mile in width, skirt- 
ing a beautiful, meandering stream, the head branch 
of the Neosho river, fed by innumerable rills and 
springs of the finest and most delicious water, although 
some writers have attempted to invest it with a sort 
of romantic interest, and dignify it with a name calcu- 
lated to induce the belief that the various wild tribes 
of the plains once met annually upon this consecrated 
spot " to smoke the calumet of peace.'" This grove, 
where the prairie traveler often takes a pleasant siesta, 
and where a few houses and a blacksmith shop have 
recently been erected for the use of the government, 
is situated about one hundred and fifty miles west of 
the western frontier of Missouri. 

Advancing about sixteen miles further, over high, 
rolling prairies, we encamped near the Diamond 
springs. The heat was oppressive. The most en- 
chanting spots ever depicted by the pen of the eastern 
romancer, possess not more charms for the youthful 
imagination, than do the groves and the fine, gushing, 
transparent Diamond springs, for the thirsty, wayworn 
traveler on the plains. These crystal fountains derive 
their name from the limpidness of their waters. Trav- 
elers across the plains are compelled to stop at certain 
places for water, wood and rest. These places for 
convenience are mostly dignified with appropriate 
names, though in the midst of solitary wastes where 
there never existed, and perhaps never will exist, a 
human habitation, or the least vestige of civilization. 

Our provisions becoming scant, on the 7th, Lieut. 
S. Jackson, of Howard, with four men, was sent for- 
ward seven or eight days' march in advance of the 
command, with orders to halt a train of provision 


doniphan's expedition. 

wagons at the Pawnee Fork of the Arkansas. This 
order was promptly executed. It may not be im- 
proper in this connection, to observe, that the govern- 
ment trains, which were fitted up at Fort Leavenworth, 
were dispatched upon the road in companies of 
twenty-five or thirty wagons, irrespective of the 
marches of the different detachments of troops. It 
therefore often happened that some portions of the 
army, for short periods of time, were destitute of sup- 
plies upon the road. Each of these trains of wagons 
had a superintendent-general, or wagon-master, and 
the wagoners were well armed, so that there was no 
need of an escort or guard, as these brave and hardy 
teamsters were at all times prepared to fight their own 
battles against the Indians who beset the roads for 
plunder. Had the wagoners employed in General 
Taylor's division of the army, been equally well fur- 
nished with arms, perhaps so many of them would not 
have fallen a sacrifice to the Mexican guerillas. 

After a progress of twenty-nine miles,* over a level, 
smooth surface, covered with tall, rank grass, waving 
in green ridges before the sporting breeze, we arrived 
upon the banks of the Cottonwood Fork of the Neosho. 
On these elevated prairies, an interesting phenomenon 
is presented, w T orthy the consideration of the philoso- 
pher. A zigzag strip of grass, of more luxuriant growth 
than the rest, resembling the forky course of lightning, 
may often be distinctly traced by the eye. The pro- 
position then arises, may not the lightning, in its 

* The distance of each day's march was generally reported 
by Captain Emory, of the Field and Topographical Engineers, 
and also the latitude and longitude of all places of importance 
on the route. 


course, thus have touched and marked the earth, com- 
municating to the soil a degree of fertility, which 
manifests itself in the exuberant production alluded 
to ? and may not barren countries and sterile lands be 
reclaimed, by conducting the electric fluid into the 
bosom of the earth by means of lightning-rods, or an 
iron forest? Surely these propositions are of some 

A march of fifteen miles brought us to Turkey 
creek, where we found a tolerable supply of grass and 
water, but not a stick of timber ; not even a twig as 
large as a pipe-stem. This was the first time the men 
were necessitated to broil their meat, and boil their 
coffee on a smouldering heap of the dried ordure of 
the buffalo, which lay scattered in great profusion 
upon the prairie. This " prairie fuel," as the volun- 
teers termed it, is a tolerable substitute for wood, in 
dry, but is worse than useless in wet weather. It was 
our chief reliance, however, as we advanced further 
upon the great plains. 

On the 9th, after a hurried march of twenty-five 
miles, we arrived upon the banks of the Little Arkan- 
sas, about ten miles above its confluence with the 
main Arkansas river. Here the musquitoes, and their 
allies, the black gnat, in swarms, attacked us in the 
most heroic manner, and annoyed us as much, if not 
more than the Mexican lancers did at a subsequent 
period. While at this camp, an express arrived from 
the two detachments immediately under command of 
Cols. Doniphan and Kearney, representing them as 
being in a starving condition, and calling upon Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Ruff to furnish them with such portion 
of his provisions as could be spared. Lieutenant- 


doniphan's expedition. 

colonel Ruff, being destitute himself, and having, as 
already noticed, sent an express to Pawnee Fork for 
supplies, directed the express men from Colonel 
Kearney to proceed thither, and bring to a halt such 
a number of provision wagons as would be sufficient 
for the three detachments. One of these express men, 
A. E. Hughes, in attempting to swim the Pawnee river, 
at that time very much swollen by the recent freshets, 
was drowned. His corpse was afterwards found 
floating in the stream, and was taken and buried with 
appropriate military honors.* 

On the morning of the 10th, a heavy drenching 
rain was descending. Twenty or thirty men were 
sick, and comfortably sheltered by their tents from the 
driving storm. An order was given, however, to take 
up the line of march. Some of the captains, at first, 
refused to strike tents ; not wishing to expose their 
sick men unnecessarily to the inclement weather. The 
order was regarded as ill-timed, and highly improper. 
An altercation took place between Captain Jackson 
and Lieutenant-colonel Ruff, commanding the detach- 
ment, the result of which, however, was less serious 
than was at first anticipated. At length, all struck 
their tents, and were ready for the march. We left, 
at this camping place, for the detachment with Colo- 
nel Doniphan, the only provisions w T e had to spare, 
consisting of two barrels of flour, two of pork, and one 
of salt. This relieved the colonel considerably, as he 

* Mr. Innman, a merchant of Lexington, was drowned in the 
Missouri, at Fort Leavenworth, just before the expedition set 
forward, lie was the first man lost. His interment took place 
at the fort. 



had with him only two companies, numbering about two 
hundred and twenty men. Colonel Kearney was still 
in the rear of Colonel Doniphan, about one day's 
march, with five companies, very scant of provisions, 
pushing forward with the utmost vigor. The two 
companies under Captains Reid and Waldo, were in 
our advance some three days' march, and still further 
on, were the detachment of dragoons, under Captains 
Moore, Burgwin, and Lieutenant Noble. 

Col. Doniphan, having quickened his pace, over- 
hauled the first battalion under command of Lieuten- 
ant-colonel Ruff, on the evening of the 11th, encamped 
on Cow creek. This was the first time we had seen 
Col. Doniphan since leaving fort Leavenworth, a dis- 
tance of two hundred and fifty miles. Uniting the 
two detachments, his force was now swelled to near 
700 men. It was on this creek that Don Antonio Jose 
Chavez, a New Mexican trader, was robbed and mur- 
dered, in the spring of 1843, by a marauding party of 
fifteen men, headed by Capt. John McDaniel, of Lib- 
erty, pretending to hold a commission under the gov- 
ernment of Texas. This unfortunate Mexican had 
with him five servants, and about ten thousand dollars, 
principally in gold bullion. The perpetrators of this 
bloody deed were promptly arrested and brought to 
justice. The captain and one of his comrades being 
convicted of murder, before the United States 5 court 
at St. Louis, were executed according to law. The 
rest who were concerned in the robbery, were sen- 
tenced to fine and imprisonment. A few escaped. 

Early on the morning of the 12th, the command 
left Cow creek, and after a march of twenty-six miles 
encamped for the night at Walnut creek, near its junc- 


doniphan's expedition. 

tion with the Arkansas. The day was excessively- 
hot. y The thermometer, though exposed to the breeze, 
stood at ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit. The earth 
was literally parched to a crust, and the grass in many 
places crisped by the heat of the sun. In the distant 
horizon, upon the green plains, might be seen ephem- 
eral rivers and lakes, inviting you to drink of their 
seemingly delicious waters. It is all, however, a tan- 
talizing illusion ; for as you approach the enchanting 
spot, the waters recede. This deceptive mirage, which 
so much resembles lakes and rivers of water, may 
perhaps be produced by the rays of the sun being 
reflected from the glossy green surface of the prairies, 
and also by their suffering some dispersion in their pas- 
sage through the atmosphere, which, in that open and 
elevated country, is in constant motion. These false 
ponds and rivers appear to be at the distance of about 
one mile from the spectator. In approaching the Ar- 
kansas, a landscape of the most imposing and pictur- 
esque nature makes its appearance — while the green, 
glossy undulations of the prairie to the right seem to 
spread out in infinite succession, like waves subsiding 
after a storm, covered with herds of gamboling buf- 
falo ; on the left towering to the height of seventy-five 
to one hundred feet, rise the yellow, golden, sun-gilt 
summits of the Sand Hills, among which winds the 
broad majestic river, " bespeckled with verdant islets 
thickly set with cottonwood timber." The Sand Hills 
in shape resemble heaps of driven snow. 

The march had now been continued nearly all the 
day without water. The men and animals were grow- 
ing faint with thirst ; but the waters of the Big Arkan- 
sas, rolling silently and majestically through its own 



wide savannahs, suddenly appearing, re-invigorated 
them. Horse and man ran involuntarily into the river, 
and simultaneously slaked their burning thirst. The 
Arkansas here is a broad, sandy, shallow stream, with 
low banks, fordable at almost any point, and is skirted 
on either side by clumps of elm, oak, walnut, cotton- 
wood, and other trees. The principal growth, how- 
ever, is to be found on the islands, which chequer, 
with green spots, the broad course of the river. At 
Walnut creek, we overtook fifteen merchant wagons, 
belonging to the Santa Fe trade. Henceforward they 
continued with the army for the protection it afforded. 

By the dawn of day on the 13th, we were on the 
march. Innumerable herds of buffalo presented them- 
selves in all directions. The whole plain was literally 
alive with them as far as the eye could reach. These 
huge animals, whose flesh is esteemed the greatest of 
delicacies on the plains, present a sight of no ordina- 
ry interest to an army of hungry men, whose palates, 
more than their eyes or curiosity, need to be satisfied. 
Great numbers of them were killed, and the army 
feasted upon them most sumptuously. A march of 
fifteen miles brought us to the noted Pawnee Rock, 
of which Mr. Josiah Gregg, in his M Commerce on the 
Prairies," thus speaks : this rock "is situated at the 
projecting point of a ridge, and upon its surface are 
furrowed, in uncouth but legible characters, numerous 
dates, and the names of various travelers who have 
chanced to pass that way." A great battle, as the 
legend goes, was once fought near this rock, which 
appears conspicuous above the prairies at the distance 
of fifteen miles, between the Pawnees and their mor- 
tal enemies, the Cheyennes, whence the name. Di- 


Doniphan's expedition. 

gressing to the left, and proceeding from this point 
southwardly, four or five miles for wood and water, 
we encamped on the east bank of the Arkansas. — 
Here the men forded the river, and killed plenty of 
buffalo, elk, antelope and deer, and brought in quan- 
tities of the grape plum, ripe and of excellent flavor. 
Here also fish were caught in abundance. The night 
was therefore consumed in feasting and merriment. 

Early on the morning of the 14th, the army was put 
in motion, Capt. Congreve Jackson and his company 
being left to pay the last honors to the remains of 
young N. Carson, who died suddenly the previous 
night. His burial took place near the Pawnee Rock, 
a decent grave being prepared to receive the corpse, 
wrapt in a blanket instead of a coffin and shroud. A 
tombstone was raised to mark the spot where he repo- 
ses, with his name, age, and the date of his decease, 
engraved in large capitals. He slumbers in the wild 
Pawnee's land. This is but a sample of the interment 
of hundreds whose recent graves mark the march of 
the western army. A progress of fourteen miles 
brought us to the Pawnee Fork, where, to our great 
relief, we found Lieut. Jackson, who had been sent 
forward from the Diamond Springs, with twenty-five 
commissary wagons. To guard this provision train 
against the treacherous and wily Pawnees, who con- 
stantly beset the road for murder and plunder, Capt. 
Waldo had left Lieut. Reed with thirty-six men. 

On the 15th, Col. Kearney, with the rear of the 
army, consisting of five companies, two of volunteer 
infantry, two of volunteer light artillery, one of 
mounted volunteers, and a small number of the 1st 
dragoons, overhauled Col. Doniphan, forming a junc- 



tion of their forces, at the Pawnee-Fork. Mr. Riche, 
sutler to the 1st dragoons, and post master on the ex- 
pedition, brought up the mail to our encampment. 
This mail brought us the first, and only intelligence 
we had received from the States, since our departure 
from fort Leavenworth, although we had advanced 
upon the road three hundred miles. No one can so 
fully appreciate the value of a newspaper, or a letter, 
as he who is cast abroad on the solitary plains, and 
cut off by intervening deserts, from all the enjoyments 
of society. Every thing in the shape of news was 
devoured with the utmost eagerness. The river, 
swollen by recent showers, was impassable. Col. 
Kearney, however, with his accustomed energy, deter- 
mined not to delay. He therefore caused trees to be 
felled across the deep, rapid current. This was the 
labor of a day. On the trunks of these trees the men 
passed over, carrying with them their sick, arms, ac- 
coutrements, tents and baggage. In this manner the 
principal loading of the wagons was also transported. 
Our animals were forced to swim the stream. The 
wagons, the bodies being made fast to the running- 
gear, were next floated across by means of ropes 
attached to them, and hauled up the hill by manual 
power. This immense labor having been accomplished 
without serious accident or loss, on the 17th, Colonel 
Kearney put his whole column in motion. The sick 
were conveyed in the baggage wagons. This was a 
miserable -arrangement. Spring carriages, for the use 
of the medical department, should have been fitted 
out by the government, to accompany the expedition. 
Had this been done, many valuable lives might have 
been saved. 


doniphan's expedition. 

The companies of infantry kept pace with the 
mounted men. Their feet were blistered by their 
long, and almost incredible marches. The ground 
was often marked with blood in their foot-prints ; yet 
w 7 ith Roman fortitude they endured the toils of the 
campaign. Their courage could neither be abated by 
distance, nor their resolution relaxed by difficulties, 
nor their spirits subdued by privations, nor their ardor 
cooled by length of time. Diverging from the main 
Santa Fe road, we followed the Arkansas. Having 
performed a toilsome march of twenty-seven miles, 
over a level, sandy, bottom prairie, darkened by herds 
of lowing buffalo, and abounding with numerous 
insects and reptiles, we encamped for the night, and 
pitched our tents on the verge of that broad and beau- 
tiful stream. Our encampment, laid off in military 
order, resembled a small city, and seemed as though 
it had sprung up by enchantment. This river has 
some singular features: its banks are seldom elevated 
more than two feet above the surface of the water in 
the channel, which is remarkably broad and shallow. 
The current is swift. Consequently under the agency 
of the wind and the heat of the sun, evaporation takes 
place rapidly This is a wise provision of nature for 
furnishing moisture to the adjacent plains, which other- 
wise must have remained barren and parched, as but 
little rain falls during the year in this region. To-day 
Maj. Howard returned from Santa Fe, whither he had 
been dispatched by Col. Kearney, to ascertain the 
disposition of the New Mexicans in reference to sub- 
mitting to the government of the United States. He 
failed, however, to accomplish fully the purpose of 
his mission, reporting that the common people, or pie- 



beians, were inclined to favor the conditions of peace 
proposed by Col. Kearney, to wit : that if they would 
lay down their arms and take the oath of allegiance 
to the government of the United States they should, 
to all intents and purposes, become citizens of the 
same republic, receiving the protection and enjoying 
the liberties guarantied to other American citizens; 
but that the patrician classes, who held the offices and 
ruled the country, were hostile, and were making 
warlike preparations. He added further, that 2,300 
men were already armed for the defence of the cap- 
ital, and that others were assembling at Taos. This 
report produced quite a sensation in our camp. It 
was now expected that Col. Kearney's entrance into 
Santa Fe would be obstinately disputed. 

On the 20th, after a march of near thirty miles over 
a surface covered with friable, calcarious lime-stone, 
we arrived at the crossing of the Arkansas, where we 
found an abundant supply of grass, wood and water. 
During our progress to-day we enjoyed a very fine 
view of a buffalo chase. Nothing except a charge 
upon the Mexicans could have animated the men 
more, or produced more thrilling sensations. The 
broad plain spread its green bosom before us ; our 
bannered column extended for miles along its level 
surface. Suddenly a band of four hundred buffalo, 
emerging from the Arkansas, broke through our ranks, 
when our men charged upon them with guns, pistols, 
and drawn sabres. A scene of beautiful confusion 
ensued. Pell-mell they went scampering and thun- 
dering along the plain, exhibiting just such a tumult, 
as, perhaps, the solitudes never before witnessed. 


doniphan's expedition. 

Several of those huge animals paid the forfeit of their 
lives for their temerity. 

Early on the morning of the 21st, we continued our 
march, winding along the north margin of the river, 
leaving the main Santa Fe road by the Cimarron, at 
the crossing. This part of the country abounds in 
serpents, chamelions, prairie lizards, horned frogs, 
dry-land turtles, and the whole tribe of the entomolo- 
gist. Grasshoppers are as numerous as were the locusts 
sent by the afflicting hand of Providence in swarms 
upon the land of Egypt. To cheer the solitude and 
break the monotony of the plains, in many places a 
rich variety of flowers blossom, and blush, and " waste 
their sweetness on the desert air." The prairie pink 
or yamperj is an exquisite flower of a rich purple color. 
The root of this plant is bulbous and esculent. When 
dried, the Indians use it for bread. The blue lily of 
the bottom prairie, the white poppy, and the mimic 
morning glory, are interesting specimens of prairie 
flowers, and would do honor to the finest gardens in 
Missouri. After a progress of twenty-seven miles, 
we encamped on the river bank in a rich bottom prai- 
rie. At this time we had on the sick list one hundred 

Wednesday, 22d, we vigorously pushed forward, 
rarely ever losing sight of that broad> bright zone of 
water, the Arkansas, which was our only dependence 
for quenching thirst. In many places scattering clumps 
of cottonwood trees border each of its banks, and, on 
every island (which is guarded by the stream from the 
sweeping, annual prairie conflagrations,) invite into 
their umbrageous bowers the sun-burnt, way worn 
soldier. A few hours rest refits him for the march. 



To-day we passed Pawnee Fort, an old decayed stock- 
ade, and a few crumbling cabins, on an island where 
many years ago, as tradition says, a great battle was 
fought between the Pawnees and their besiegers, the 
Cheyennes. The face of the country is uniformly 
level. A great variety of pleasing and interesting 
flowers made their appearance, — prairie dog villages 
abound. These wide solitary domains of the prairies, 
although they never can be occupied by civilized man, 
are nevertheless tenanted by very interesting little vil- 
lagers. These little prairie dogs, or squirrels, which 
have attracted the attention of the traveler and the 
tourist, are queer creatures. They would sit perched 
on their domicils, and bark like a terrier at the whole 
army. A march of eighteen miles brought us to our 
camp on the river bank, where we obtained excellent 
water by sinking barrels two or three feet in the sand ; 
the river water being rendered unpleasant by the ex- 
cessive heat of the sun. The Arkansas is one of the 
finest streams in the world for bathing purposes. The 
water is generally two or three feet deep, swiftly roll- 
ing over a bed of yellow sand, no less beautiful than 
the golden sands of the fabled Pactolus. Of an eve- 
ning I have witnessed more than five hundred men 
enjoying this re-invigorating luxury at one time, splash- 
ing and plunging about in the waves. 

The march was continued on the 23d, without the 
occurrence of any event worthy of historical record. 
Mr. Augustus Leesley, an intelligent young man of the 
Cole company, died of a chronic affection on the 22d, 
and his corpse was decently interred to-day on the 
road side, in a desolate tract of country, four miles 
above Pawnee Fort ; twelve rounds were fired over 


doniphan's expedition. 

his grave, and a rude stone was placed to mark the 
spot where he rests. The army again becoming scant 
of provisions, Lieut. Sublette with four men was sent 
in advance to bring to a halt a train of commissary 
wagons. This order was promptly put into execution 
by Lieut. Sublette, notwithstanding the wagons were 
much farther upon the road than was anticipated. Ta- 
king with him but two days' rations, and being out 
seven, he and his party were compelled to travel night 
and day to escape starvation. 

On the 24th, we marched twelve miles, and nooned 
in a rich bottom prairie, where the grass was abundant 
and of good quality. The wild, spontaneous pumpkin 
vines made the prairie resemble the cultivated fields 
of Missouri. Limestone and sandstone were here 
found promiscuously arranged, the latter predomina- 
ting in the vicinity of the mountains. Eight miles 
further brought us to our camp on the river margin, 
densely covered with tall grass, pea- vines and rushes. 
Many of our horses had by this time failed, and had 
been abandoned to their fate on the great prairies, A 
man six hundred miles from the nearest civilized set- 
tlements, in a desert country, feels a kind of friendship 
and sympathy for his horse, when he abandons him 
on the plains to be devoured by wolves or captured 
by Comanches, that almost makes him shed tears. He 
feels as though he were abandoning his best friend to 
perish in a desolate land. 

The march was continued with the utmost vigor on 
the 25th, 26th and 27th, following the course of the 
river, at an average of about twenty-seven miles per 
day, over a heavy, sandy road. Lieutenant-colonel 
Ruff, with the first battalion, being now some four or 



five miles in advance of the main army, halted and 
ordered drill until Col. Kearney should come up. — 
This ill-timed order for drill, where Apollo's shafts 
fell thick and heavy, and where every breeze that 
swept across the parched and heated plain felt as with- 
ering as the breath of the Sahara, produced an excite- 
ment in his command which came near resulting in a 
total disregard of the order. In consequence of this 
and certain other strict orders subsequently issued, 
Lieutenant-colonel Ruff's popularity with his men 
began to wane. We were now passing beyond the 
region frequented by the buffalo, the most interesting 
and by far the most useful tenant of the plains, and 
entering upon the confines of a still more desolate 
tract. The earth was covered with a salinous incrus- 
tation, and the parched grass was stiffened by salt crys- 
talizations. The pulverized earth resembled smoul- 
dering embers. 

On the morning of the 28th, the whole army moved 
off, exhibiting a fine appearance, with streaming pen- 
nons and glittering arms, as they wound around the 
hills or stretched along the level plain. The shrill 
notes of the clarion animated every heart. There are 
moments of pride in the history of every man's life; 
so there are crises of more than ordinary interest in 
the march of every army. This was one of them. 
Every bosom heaved with emotion; for we could now 
see, though we could not, like the ancient herald, hurl 
a spear, into the enemy's country. The earth was 
covered with pebbles washed by the rains, and worn 
by the winds as smooth as glass, and heated by the 
sun to such a degree that they would scorch the naked 
foot to a blister. The plain here is intersected by high 


doniphan's expedition. 

ridges of hard sandstone, striped with blue and red, 
somewhat resembling the gaudy colors of the rainbow. 
This is a segment of the great American Sahara. Ex- 
cepting in the Arkansas bottom, there is little or no 
vegetation. For many months in the year, neither 
dew nor rain falls upon the thirsty desert. 

Continuing the march on the 29th, we met Fitzpat- 
rick, the mountaineer, on express from Fort Bent to 
Col. Kearney, with the following information from Santa 
Fe : " That Governor Armijo had called the chief 
men of counsel together to deliberate on the best 
means of defending the city of Santa Fe ; that hostile 
preparations were rapidly going on in all parts of 
New Mexico ; and that Col. Kearney's movements 
would be vigorously opposed." Three Mexicans 
were taken prisoners near Fort Bent, supposed to be 
spies, with blank letters upon their persons addressed 
to Col. Kearney. This piece of ingenuity was resorted 
to, no doubt to avoid detection by American residents 
and traders at Bent's Fort. These Mexicans were 
conducted, by order of Col. Kearney, through our 
camp and shown our artillery, then peaceably allowed 
to retire to Santa Fe, and report what they had seen. 

The future was pregnant with consequences of the 
greatest moment. An uncertain destiny awaited us. 
Some anticipated victory ; others apprehended disas- 
ter. Twenty days were to determine our fate. We 
were already encamped in the enemy's territory.— 
Were we to be defeated and completely overthrown ? 
or were we to enter triumphantly into the capital and 
plant the flag of our country on its adobe walls ?— 
These were questions in the minds of all, which time 
alone could solve. The sequel, however, will develop 

"cut the rope. 5 ' 


the manner in which the principles of our republican 
government were established in that benighted and 
priest-governed land, without the anticipated effusion 
of blood. 

" Cut the rope," or " pull up the picquet." 

The above cut represents the method of tethering a horse on 
the prairies. When a horse would take fright and hobble him- 
self, the volunteers would halloo from various parts of the 
camp, " Cut the rope — pull up the stake," &c. 


The Estampeda — Fort Bent — Lieut. DeCourcy — Arapaho Chief 
— March resumed — The Army passes the Desert — An Adven- 
ture — Spanish Peaks — Half Rations — Return of De Courcy— 
Doniphan's Speech — Arrival at Las Bagas — Priest of San 
Miguel — Mexican Prisoners — The Pecos Ruins — Traditions 
and Legends — Anticipated Battle of the Canon — Capture of 
Santa Fe — Gen. Kearney's Speech — Camp Rumors, &c. 

Having on the 29th crossed the Arkansas and en- 
camped in the Mexican territory, about eight miles 
below Bent's Fort, a greater degree of vigilance be- 
came necessary, to guard against the cunning of those 
Ishmaelites of the desert, the Comanches, whose coun- 
try we had unceremoniously invaded, as well as to 
prevent surprise by the Mexicans themselves. Our 
encampment was therefore laid out with the most 
scrupulous regard to military exactness. A strong 
picket and also camp guard were detailed and posted. 
Our animals being much fatigued by long marches, it 
was deemed advisable to rest and recruit them some 
two or three days. They were, by order of the colo- 
nel, turned loose upon the prairie to graze, under a 
strong guard, a few of them only being tethered. At 
first a few of them took fright at an Indian, or perhaps 
a gang of prowling wolves, which by degrees was 
communicated to others, until the whole caballada took 
a general estampeda, and scampered over the plain in 
the most furious manner. This was a scene of the 
wildest and most terrible confusion. A thousand 




horses were dashing over the prairie without riders, 
enraged and driven to madness and desperation by the 
iron pickets and the lariats which goaded and lashed 
them at every step. After great labor, most of them 
were recovered, some of them thirty and some of 
them fifty miles from camp. About sixty-five of the 
best of them were irrecoverably lost. 

Fort Bent is situated on the north bank of the Ar- 
kansas, six hundred and fifty miles west of Fort Leav- 
enworth, in latitude 38° 02' north, and longitude 103° 
03' west from Greenwich. The exterior walls of this 
fort, whose figure is that of an oblong square, are fif- 
teen feet high and four feet thick. It is a hundred 
and eighty feet long, and one hundred and thirty-five 
feet wide, and is divided into various compartments, 
the whole built of adobes, or sun-dried brick. It has 
been converted into a government depot. * Here a 
great many of the government wagons were unloaded 
and sent back to Fort Leavenworth for additional sup- 
plies. Here also, the caravans of traders awaited the 
arrival of the army, thenceforward to move under the 
wing of its protection. 

While in this encampment on the 30th, Capts. Reid 
and Waldo, of the volunteers, and Capts. Moore, and 
Burgwin, and Lieut. Noble, of the 1st dragoons, with 
their respective commands, rejoined the army, having 
vainly pursued Speyers and Armijo, who, it was sup- 
posed, were endeavoring to supply the enemy with 
ammunition and arms. About this time, Lieutenant 
De Courcy was dispatched with twenty men with 
orders to proceed directly through the mountains to 
the valley of Taos, and, having ascertained the inten- 
tions and disposition of the people, to report to Col. 
* See page 83. 


doniphan's expedition. 

Kearney on the road to Santa Fe as soon as practica- 
ble. Having received his instructions, this pacificator 
set forward on the 31st, prepared for either of the 
alternatives, peace or war.* 

Here it was that the Chief of the Arapaho tribe of 
Indians visited our camp to see the American com- 
mander, and look at his " big-guns. " With aston- 
ishment he expressed his admiration of the Americans, 
signifying that the New- Mexicans would not stand 
a moment before such terrible instruments of death, 
but would escape to the mountains with the utmost 

August 1st we moved up the river and encamped 
near Fort Bent. Here, by order of the colonel com- 
manding, Dr. Vaughan of Howard, assistant surgeon, 
was left in charge of twenty-one sick men, who were 
unable to proceed further, and had been pronounced 
physically unfit for service. Of this number some 
died,f some were discharged and returned to Mis- 

* The following interesting anecdote was related by the lieu- 
tenant who conducted this pioneer party : 

" We took three pack mules laden with provisions, and as we 
did not expect to be long absent, the men took no extra clothing. 

Three days after we left the column our mules fell down, and 
neither gentle means nor the points of sabres had the least effect 
in inducing them to rise. Their term of service with Uncle 
Sam was out. "What's to be done 1 ? " said the sergeant. "Dis- 
mount ! " said I, " Off with your shirts or drawers, men! tie up 
the sleeves and legs, and each man bag one-twentieth part of the 
flour ! " Having done this, the bacon was distributed to the 
men and tied to the cruppers of their saddles. Thus loaded we 
pushed on without the slightest fear of our provision train being 
" cut off." 

f Wm. Duncan, and Fugitt, the former of Clay, and the 



souri, and others, having recovered, came on and 
rejoined the army at Santa Fe. 

The march upon Santa Fe was resumed August 2d, 
1846, after a respite of three days in the neighborhood 
of fort Bent. As we passed the fort the American 
flag was raised, in compliment to our troops, and, in 
concert with our own, streamed most animatingly in 
the gale that swept from the desert, while the tops of 
the houses were crowded with Mexican girls, and In- 
dian squaws, intently beholding the American army. 
After a march of twenty-four miles, following the 
course of the river, we pitched our tents on a perfectly 
bare sand beach, with scarcely a shrub or spear of 
grass for our almost famishing animals. The gale 
from the inhospitable desert, which extended south- 
wardly to the Raton mountains, and south-eastwardly 
to the borders of Texas, and over which the next day 
we were to commence our march, furiously drove the 
sand, like pelting hail upon us. A few patches of the 
prickly pear, the wild sage, the spiral, or screw bush, 
and a mimic arbor vitas, are the only green shrubs that 
can vegetate in this arid and parched waste. 

After spending a comfortless night on the banks of 
the Arkansas, the water of which is very cool and re- 
freshing, so near the mountains, on the morning of 
the 3d we struck off at k right angles with the river 
from a point a few miles above the mouth of the 
Timpa, pursuing our course up that stream on account 

latter of Jackson county, were among those who died. Four 
others died — names not known. 

Besides these twenty-one volunteers, there was a number of 
dragoons and teamsters left sick, under the care of assistant sur 
geon Vaughan. The whole amounted to about sixty. 

doniphan's expedition. 

of water. The army was now upon the Great Amer- 
ican Desert. The wind and driven sand continued to 
annoy both man and beast. The parched earth 
appeared as though it had not been refreshed by a 
shower since the days of Noah's flood. The wagons 
moved heavily, the w T heels uniformly sinking over the 
felloes in the sand or pulverized earth. A toilsome 
march of twenty- five miles brought us to our camp, on a 
bare sand bank, totally destitute of green grass or 
other vegetation for our animals. The water was scarce, 
muddy, bitter, filthy, and just such as Horace in his 
Brundusium letter pronounced "vilissima rerum. n 

The American desert, is, perhaps, no less sterile, 
sandy, parched and destitute of water and every green 
herb and living thing, than the African Sahara. In 
the course of a long day's march we could scarcely 
find a pool of water to quench the thirst, a patch of 
grass to prevent our animals perishing, or an oasis to 
relieve the weary mind. Dreary, sultry, desolate, 
boundless solitude reigned as far as the eye could 
reach, and seemed to bound the distant horizon. We 
suffered much with the heat, and thirst, and the driven 
sand — -which filled our eyes, and nostrils, and mouths, 
almost to suffocation. Many of our animals perished 
on the desert. A Mexican hare, or an antelope, skim- 
ming over the ground with the utmost velocity, was 
the only living creature seen upon this plain. The 
Roman army under Metellus, on its march through 
the deserts of Africa, never encountered more serious 
opposition from the elements than did our army in its 
passage over this American Sahara. 

The march was continued on the 4th with little or 
no alteration. The wind still drove the sand furiously 



in our faces; the heat was oppressive ; and the sand 
was deep and heavy. After a progress of twenty- 
seven miles we again encamped on the vile, filthy 
Timpa, the water of which was still bitter and nausea- 
ting. Our animals perished daily. 

Vigorously pushing forward on the 5th, having 
made twenty-eight miles during the day, we passed 
out of the desert, crossed the river Purgatoire, and 
encamped on its southern bank. This lovely, clear, 
cool, rippling mountain stream was not less grateful 
to our army, after four days' unparalleled marching 
on the desert, than was that stream to the Israelitish 
army, which gushed from the rock when struck by 
the rod of the prophet. The lofty Cimarron and 
Spanish peaks were distinctly visible to the south, and 
west, towering in awful grandeur far above the clouds, 
their summits capped with eternal snow. 

After supper, W. P. Hall,* R. W. Fleming, M. 
Ringo, the author, and others whose names are not 
remembered, led by a spirit of adventure, as well as 
by a desire to recruit their horses, which had now 
been famishing for four days, determined to pass over 
the Purgatoire near to the base of the mountains to- 
wards the north-west, where there was plenty of good 
grass, and let them graze during the night. We went 
about two miles up the river before we ventured to 
cross. By this time it was dark. The valley for three 
miles in extent was covered with undergrowth, and 
matted together so thickly with vines that it was almost 
impervious. After hours of labor and bewilderment 

*Mr. W. P. Hall was chosen as a Representative to Congress 
while a private soldier in Col. Doniphan's regiment. He was 
an inmate of the same tent with the author. 


Doniphan's expedition. 

among the brush, we finally got into the stream. On 
the opposite side the black-locusts and willows grew so 
densely that it was impossible to penetrate further. 
Our progress was thus impeded. There were only 
two alternatives, either to cut our way through, or 
return to camp. We chose the former. So we went 
to work with our bowie-knives, chopping the brush 
in the dark and leading our horses in the space thus 
cleared. In this manner we made our way through 
that inexpressibly dismal brake which lines the mar- 
gin of the Purgatoire. About midnight we got 
through into the open plain, close under the moun- 
tains, which towered high in the heavens to the west- 
ward. Our horses fared well ; but we, ourselves, 
returned the next morning entirely satisfied ever after- 
wards to remain in camp during the night. 

On the 6th we advanced about seven miles, and 
encamped on a spring branch, issuing from the base 
of the Cimarron peak.* Here several of the men 
ascended to the summit of this lofty mountain, eleva- 
ted many thousand feet above the plains and vallies 
below. The scene was truly grand and magnificent. 
The Spanish peaks, twin brothers in the midst of des- 
olation, rose still above us to the westward, lifting 
high into the heavens their basaltic pillars and spurs, 
girt with clouds, and glistening with perennial snow ; 
while towering still above these rose the grander and 
loftier summits of the Cordilleras, like blue, amethys- 
tine clouds, in the distant south-western horizon. 
Thus surrounded by the grandest scenery the world 

* The Cimarron peak is estimated to be thirteen thousand 
feet above the Gulf of Mexico. 



can furnish, the author read with double enthusiasm 
the first canto of Campbell's Pleasures of Hope. 

On the 7th, at an early hour, the advance was 
sounded. Our route led up a narrow defile through 
the mountains between the Cimarron and the Spanish 
peaks, called the Raton Pass. This day's march was 
extremely arduous and severe on our teams. Rough 
roads and rocky hills obstructed our progress. The 
wagons were often hauled up the abrupt and declivi- 
tous spurs of the mountains by means of ropes, and 
in the same manner let down on the opposite side. 
Progressing a distance of eighteen miles up this chasm, 
or pass, with mountains precipitously rising on both 
sides, we arrived at a point where they suddenly 
diverge on either hand, and several miles beyond as 
suddenly contract, thus forming an amphitheatre on 
the grandest scale, sufficiently spacious to accommo- 
date the whole human race in an area, so situated that 
one man might stand on the Cimarron peak and behold 
them all. The great amphitheatre of Statillius Taurus, 
with its seventy thousand seats rising in circular tiers 
one above another, would have been nought in the 
comparison. The knobs and peaks of basalt and 
granite, projecting into the region of the clouds, pre- 
sent a scene of true sublimity. This display of the 
Almighty's power, is sufficient to extort reverence 
from the lips of an infidel. Surely the " un-devout 
astronomer is mad. " Near this romantic spot we 
encamped for the night. The grass w r as abundant and 
of excellent quality: the water cool and refreshing. 

On the 8th,* the army vigorously set forward, and 

* This morning, Henry Moore, of Saline county, died, and 
was interred in the Raton Pass. Also, one of the infantry, be- 


Doniphan's expedition. 

crossed the grand ridge which divides the waters of 
the Purgatoire, the Cimarron, and the Rio Colorado.* 
This elevated range of mountains is adorned by forests 
of pines and cedars. After an advance of eighteen 
miles, over the most difficult road, we encamped on 
the banks of the Colorado. 

In consequence of the great fatigue in crossing the 
Cimarron ridge of mountains, the command was per- 
mitted a respite of one day, as there was here a fine 
supply of wood, water and grass, three things not only 
convenient but almost essential to an army. This was 
the Sabbath, and the only Sabbath's rest we had en- 
joyed since our departure from Missouri. Here we 
shaved and dressed, not to attend church, — not to visit 
friends, — not in deference to the conventional rules 
of society, — but in remembrance of these privileges 
and requirements. Neither was this a day of feasting 
with us ; for it was on this day that our rations, which 
had never been full, were cut down to one half. From 
this time on to Santa Fe, we were actually compelled 
to subsist on about one third rations. f While the rays 
of the sun fell with unusual power in the valley, a 
heavy shower was refreshing the sides of the moun- 
tains ; and as the cloud retreated, a brilliant rainbow 
" spanned with bright arch" their basaltic summits. 

After several hours of drill out upon the level prai- 

longing to Capt. Angney's company, was found in the road, in 
an almost lifeless state. The dragoons took care of him, and 
brought him up to camp. He afterwards died. 

* The Rio Colorado is the head branch of the Canadian Fork 
of the Arkansas. 

f About one third as much as the law contemplates as the 
daily ration of a soldier. 



lie, the volunteer regiment returned to camp to par- 
take of their scanty allowance, not having ate a bite 
that morning or the previous evening. But we were 
determined to make the best of a hard case, and trust 
Uncle Sam for his future good conduct. Therefore, 
all cheerfully submitted to the unavoidable privation. 
While encamped here, on the night of 9th, Capt. Jack- 
son's company lost about 20 horses in an estampeda, 
most of which, however, after an arduous search of 
one or two days in the mountains, were recovered. 

After a forward movement of twenty-two miles on 
the 10th, with the gray tops of the mountains project- 
ing above us on the right, and the gently sloping valley 
of the Colorado on the left, we pitched our tents on 
the green banks of the Bermejo, more seriously an- 
noyed by the half-ration experiment than the dread 
of Mexican armies. It is but natural that those who 
had been reared in opulence, when they first experi- 
ence hardships and privations, should look back with 
regret upon the luxuries and pleasures of life, which 
they have but recently exchanged for the toils of a 
long and arduous campaign. Our men, like good 
soldiers, however, bore the evils of the march with 
Roman fortitude, accommodating themselves to the 
actual circumstances which surrounded them. They 
never afterwards, during the campaign, had regular 
and ample supplies. 

About noon on the 11th, we were rejoined by the 
detachment under Lieut. De Courcy, near the Poni, 
returning from their excursion to Taos. They had 
with them fourteen Mexicans, prisoners, whom they 
had picked up in various places. These prisoners, in 
true Mexican style, reported iC that the Pueblos, Yutas 


doniphan's expedition* 

and other Indian tribes, to the number of 5,000, had 
combined with the New Mexicans to oppose our march, 
and that they would annoy our lines every day from 
San Miguel to Santa Fe." We soon learned how 
much credit was due to Mexican reports.* Having 
progressed seventeen miles, we encamped on the Re- 
yado, a cool mountain stream, where there was nei- 
ther grass nor fuel. 

Early on the morning of the 12th, we passed the 
newly made grave of some unfortunate soldier,! who 
had died the previous day, and was buried, perhaps 
without ceremony, on the road side, Colonel Kearney 
being now some distance in advance of Colonel Doni- 
phan, w T ith near 500 men. Thus were our numbers 
diminished, not by the sword, but by disease. Al- 
most every day some dragoon or volunteer, trader, 
teamster, or amateur, who had set out upon the expe- 
dition buoyant with life and flattered with hopes of 
future usefulness, actuated by a laudable desire to serve 
his country, found a grave on the solitary plains. To 
die in honorable warfare ; to be struck down in the 
strife of battle ; to perish on the field of honor ; to 
sacrifice life for victory, is no hardship to the fallen 
brave ; is no source of regret to surviving friends ; for 
the remembrance of the noble deeds of the slain 
sweeten the cup of sorrow. But to see the gallant, 
the patriotic, the devoted soldier, sinking and wasting 

*Punica fides was the reproach of the ancient Carthaginians. 
Fides Mexicana is now a term of synonymous import, when ap- 
plied to the Mexican people. Treachery is their national char 

j- This was probably a dragoon. The initials E. M. were 
marked on the rude slab that designated his final resting place. 



his energies under the slow, sure progress of disease, 
which finally freezes the current of life, fills the heart 
with melancholy. Such cases claim our sympathy and 
merit our remembrance. 

A march of twenty miles, mostly through the gorges 
of the mountains, over a rocky, flinty road, brought 
us to the Ocate, a limpid stream of fresh water, where 
we halted for the night. The nearest timber was two 
miles and a half distant. Of an evening when the 
army would halt for the purpose of selecting a camp 
ground, and the order was given to dismount, a busy 
scene ensued. Every man was his own servant. Some 
were scrambling after the scattering sticks of wood, 
or dry brush ; some busy in pitching their tents and 
arranging them in order ; some tethering the animals; 
and some bringing water for cooking purposes. At 
length, "all is set." The coffee is made, the meat 
broiled, and the bread prepared as it may be, when 
the several messes, gathering round their respective 
fires, seated upon the ground, with appetites sharpened 
by a long day's march, dispatch, in "double-quick 
time," their scanty fare. Supper over, the men next 
see after their horses, picket them on fresh grass, re- 
turn to camp, spread their blankets upon the earth, 
wrap up in them, and unceremoniously fall asleep,— 
leaving the spies and guard to take care of the 

Here Col. Doniphan assembled his soldiers on the 
green, and briefly addressed them. He concluded by 
reproving them for their indiscretion in wasting their 
ammunition upon game, assuring them that there were 
only fifteen rounds of cartridge in camp ; that there 
was every reason to apprehend an engagement with 


dontphan's expedition. 

the enemy in a short time ; that strict discipline and 
prompt obedience were essential to the safety of the 
expedition ; that their own honor, and the reputation 
of their State, demanded the cheerful performance of 
duty ; that to retreat or surrender was a proposition 
that could not be considered ; and that we must con- 
quer or die, for defeat was annihilation. 

After a drive of nineteen miles, along a rugged road, 
through narrow defiles between the spurs of the moun- 
tains, we encamped on a ravine, bordered by a strip 
of fine grass, near the Santa Clara Spring, Col. Kear- 
ney having advanced six miles further, and taken his 
position on the river Mora. 

Having advanced, on the 14th, to the Mora, we re- 
joined Col. Kearney. We were now on the verge of 
the Mexican settlements. The country was becoming 
fit for cultivation. Droves of swine, herds of cattle, 
and flocks of sheep and goats, were feeding in the 
vallies and grassy glades. The hills and upland were 
adorned with comely groves of cedars and pines.— 
Ranchos with their corn fields and gardens were ma- 
king their appearance, and every thing began to wear 
the semblance of civilization. After a vigorous march 
of twenty-five miles, we encamped on the Gallinas 
creek, near the small town Las Bagas, the first Mexi- 
can village on the road. Strict orders were given 
the soldiers not to molest the inhabitants, and also to 
respect the lives and property of such Mexican citi- 
zens as remained peaceable and neutral. 

At dawn of day on the morning of the 15th, the 
spies, Messrs. Bent and Estis, who had been sent out 
the previous evening to reconnoitre, and ascertain the 
position of the enemy, and learn if it was his inten- 



tion to make battle, returned and reported to Colonel 
Kearney, that 2,000 Mexicans were encamped at a 
place about six miles from Las Bagas, called the Canon 
or Pass, and that they intended there to give us battle. 
Maj. Swords had just arrived from Fort Leavenworth, 
with the United States' mail, bringing intelligence 
of the appointment by the President, of Col. Kearney 
to be a Brigadier-general in the United States' Army. 
Other important documents were received besides Col. 
Kearney's commission as a Brigadier-general, but now 
there was no time for reading letters and newspapers. 

Gen. Kearney immediately formed the line of battle. 
The dragoons, with the St. Louis mounted volunteers 
were stationed in front; Maj. Clark, with the battalion 
of volunteer light artillery in the centre ; and Colonel 
Doniphan's regiment of mounted volunteers in the 
rear. The two companies of volunteer infantry were 
deployed on each side of the line of march, as flank- 
ers. The baggage and merchant trains were next in 
order, with Capt. Walton's mounted company (B) as 
a rear guard. There was also a strong advance guard. 
The cartridges were hastily distributed ; the cannons 
swabbed and rigged; the port-fires burning; and every 
rifle charged. The advance was sounded by martial 
trumpet and horn. The banners streamed in every 
direction. The officers dashed along the lines — the 
high-toned chivalry of the American character beamed 
from every eye — in every countenance was expressed 
the settled determination to win — every heart was 
stout — every lip quivered with resolution, and every 
arm was nerved for the conflict. 

In passing this little town, Las Bagas, the general ^ 
halted the army, and on the top of a large flat-roofed 


doniphan's expedition. 

building, assembled the Alcalde or magistrate and 
other men of distinction among the Mexicans, and 
there, on the holy cross, administered to them the oath 
of allegiance to the laws and government of the Uni- 
ted States. This done, the army hurried on to the 
Canon in high spirits and hope, being confident of 
victory. When we arrived, however, at the place 
where w T e expected to engage with the enemy, to our 
great disappointment, the Mexicans had dispersed, and 
there was no one to oppose our march. It is perhaps 
better thus to have gained a bloodless victory by the 
terror of our arms, than to have purchased it with 
blood and loss of life. 

About noon we passed the small village, Tecolate, 
the inhabitants of which willingly received us, and 
cheerfully took the oath of allegiance to our govern- 
ment, administered to them by Gen. Kearney as at 
Las Bagas. Our men were covered with sweat and 
dust, from the exercise and excitement through which 
they had gone, so completely that it was impossible to 
tell one man from another. Having marched twenty 
miles, we encamped within about six miles of San 
Miguel, near a small rancho, where we found plenty 
of water, wood, and fine grass for our animals. 

On the 16th, after a progress of six miles, we ar- 
rived at San Miguel, situated on the river Pecos, and 
famous as being the place near which the Texan army 
under command of Gen. McLeod, fell into the hands 
of Gen. Salezar and Gov. Armijo, in 1841. Here 
again Gen. Kearney, assembling the citizens of the 
place, as usual, on the terraced roof of some spacious 
building, delivered to them a stern, sententious speech, 
absolving them from any further allegiance to the 



Mexican government. When the general was about 
to compel them to swear fealty to our government on 
the sacred cross, the Alcalde and Priest objected. The 
general inquired the grounds of their objection. They 
replied, that the oath he required them to take would 
virtually render them traitors to their country, a sin 
of which they disdained to be guilty. Gen. Kearney 
having promised protection to their persons and pro- 
perty, as to other citizens of the United States, and 
also having threatened to subvert the town unless they 
should submit, they were at length induced to take 
the oath. 

The army having proceeded about ten miles farther, 
encamped on the Pecos, near San Jose. Here the 
water was excellent, but the grass was indifferent. — 
Bold springs of delicious water gush from the rocks. 

During the night of the 16th, while we were en- 
camped at San Jose, the picket guard placed out 
by Col. Doniphan, took the son of the Mexican gen- 
eral, Salezar, prisoner. He was a spy, and was held 
in custody until our arrival at Santa Fe, where he was 
afterwards set at liberty. This prisoner's father, Gen. 
Salezar, is the same detestable wretch who captured 
the Texans near Anton Chico and San Miguel, and 
treated them with such wanton cruelty and inhumani- 
ty. It was by his order that G. Wilkins Kendall was 
robbed of his passports ; it was his influence that pro- 
cured the execution of the brave Howland, Rosenbury 
and Baker, all American citizens. Young Salezar 
was taken by James Chorn and Thomas McCarty, of 
the Clay company. Also, two other Mexican soldiers 
were made prisoners the same night. 

On the morning of the 17th, these last mentioned 


doniphan's expedition. 

prisoners were, by order of Gen. Kearney, conducted 
through our camps and shown our cannon. They 
were then suffered to depart, and tell their own peo- 
ple what they had seen. To color and exaggerate 
accounts is a truly Mexican characteristic. They 
therefore returned to their comrades in arms, repre- 
senting our numbers at 5,000 men, and declaring we 
had so many pieces of cannon, that they could not 
count them. This highly colored account of our 
strength, no doubt spread dismay through their ranks, 
and increased the desertions from Armijo's standard, 
which were already going on to an extent well calcu- 
cated to alarm him. 

After a march of ten miles, we came to the Pecos 
village, now in ruins. This village was formerly the 
seat of a flourishing and powerful tribe, claiming to be 
the lineal descendants of the great Montezuma. "A 
tradition was prevalent among them," observes Mr. 
Gregg, " that Montezuma had kindled a holy fire, and 
enjoined their ancestors not to suffer it to be extinguish- 
ed until he should return to deliver his people from the 
yoke of the Spaniards. In pursuance of these com- 
mands, a constant watch had been maintained for ages 
to prevent the fire from going out ; and, as tradition 
further informed them, that Montezuma would appear 
with the sun, the deluded Indians were to be seen every 
clear morning upon the terraced roofs of their houses 
attentively watching for the appearance of the ' king 
of light,' in hopes of seeing him 6 cheek by jowl 5 with 
their immortal sovereign. Some say that they never 
lost hope in the final coming of Montezuma until, by 
some accident or other, or a lack of a sufficiency of 
warriors to watch it, the fire became extinguished ; 



and that it was this catastrophe that induced them to 
abandon their villages. 55 

The spacious temple, on whose altar the sacred Mon- 
tezumian or vestal fire was kept alive for so many suc- 
cessive ages, was built of sun-dried bricks, as the tra- 
dition proceeds, more than three hundred years ago. 
This building appears to be of Mexican architecture, 
and is of the following dimensions : — -its length is one 
hundred and ninety-one feet, breadth thirty-five feet, 
and fifty feet to the ceiling — the walls are six feet 
thick. The interior of the temple, the division into 
compartments, the subterranean cells, the decorations 
of the altar, and the stone cisterns and tanks, display 
some taste, although the edifice is but the wreck of 
what it has been, the turrets having tumbled to the 
ground. The entire village appears to have been ori- 
ginally surrounded by a stone wall eight feet in height 
and four in thickness. 

Most of the Pueblos of New Mexico have similar 
traditions among them, respecting their great sove- 
reign, Montezuma, and to this day look for him to 
come from the east to deliver his people from Mexi- 
can bondage. After our arrival in Santa Fe, an intel- 
ligent New Mexican declared to me, u that the Pueblo 
Indians could not be induced to unite their forces with 
the Mexicans in opposing the Americans, in conse- 
quence of an ancient and long cherished tradition among 
them, that at a certain period of time, succor would 
come from the east to deliver them from their Spanish 
oppressors, and to restore to them the kingdom of 
Montezuma; and that they hailed the American army 
as the long promised succor. 55 

Gold is emphatically the god of the Mexicans. 


doniphan's expedition. 

They have no motives but those of profit ; no springs 
of action but those of self-love ; no desires but those 
of gain ; and no restraints but those of force. The 
eternal jingle of cash is music to their ears. Virtue, 
honesty, honor, piety, religion, patriotism, generosity, 
and reputation, are to them pompous and unmeaning 
terms ; and he whose conduct is shaped by principles 
of fair dealing, is regarded as incomparably stupid. 
Vice, fraud, deceit, treachery, theft, plunder, murder 
and assassination, stalk abroad in open daylight, and 
set order, law and justice at defiance. The virtue of 
females is bought and sold. Such is the moral and 
social system in Mexico. 

As our army passed by the villages and other set- 
tlements in New Mexico, the men, women, boys and 
girls, in great numbers, would come out to the road, 
bringing with them vegetables, bread, milk, eggs, 
cheese, fruits, pepper, chickens, and other eatables, 
and with the utmost importunity, following along the 
lines, would seek a purchaser of their valuable stores. 
In this manner these traffickers drained most of the 
specie from the purses of the American soldiers. Pro- 
ceeding three miles beyond the Pecos Ruin, we en- 
camped for the last time on the Pecos river, the wa- 
ter of which is exceedingly beautiful and transparent. 
The earth in many places is carpeted with fine grass, 
and adorned with shadowing pines and cedars. 

When Gov. Don Manuel Armijo learned more cer- 
tainly that we were approaching Santa Fe, the capital 
of New Mexico and seat of his official residence, he 
assembled, by proclamation, seven thousand troops, 
two thousand of whom were well armed, and the rest 
more indifferently armed, and marched them out to 



meet us at the Canon, or Pass of the Galisteo, about 
fifteen miles from Santa Fe, intending there to give us 
battle. He had written a note to Gen. Kearney the 
day previous, stating that he would meet him some- 
where that day, or the day following. The letter was 
very politely dictated, and so ambiguous in its expres- 
sions that it was impossible to know whether it was 
the Governor's intention to meet Gen. Kearney in 
council, or in conflict. The General, however, has- 
tened on, and arrived at the Canon about noon on the 
18th, with his whole army in battle array. Here, 
again, no enemy appeared to dispute our passage. 
The Mexicans had dispersed and fled to the moun- 
tains.* This Canon is nothing more than a deep 
fissure, or chasm, through the ridge of the mountains 
w T hich divides the waters of the Pecos from those of 
the Rio del Norte. Here the Mexicans had com- 
menced fortifying against our approach, by chopping 
away the timber so their artillery could play to better 
advantage upon our lines, and throwing up temporary 
breast-works ; but they lacked either courage or una- 
nimity to defend a position apparently so well chosen. 

It is stated upon good authority that Gov. Armijo, 
Gen. Salezar, and other generals in the Mexican army, 
disputed for the supreme command, and that the com- 
mon people being peaceably disposed towards the 
Americans, readily seized upon the dissensions of 
their leaders as a pretext for abandoning the army 
Thus Gov. Armijo was left without soldiers to defend 
the Pass. However this may be, one thing is certain, 

* Gov. Armijo, with near two hundred dragoons, made his 
escape in the direction of El Pas|o del Norte. He was subse- 
quently heard of in Durango and Guadalajara. 


doniphan's expedition. 

that an army of near seven thousand Mexicans, with 
six pieces of cannon, and vastly the advantage of the 
ground, permitted Gen. Kearney, with less than two 
thousand Americans, to pass through the narrow defile 
and march right on to the capital of the State.* 

Thus on the 18th day of August, 1846, after a tire- 
some march of near nine hundred miles in less than 
fifty days, Gen. Kearney with his whole command 
entered Santa Fe, the capital of the province of New 
Mexico, and took peaceable and undisputed possession 
of the country, (without the loss of a single man, or 
the shedding of one drop of blood,) in the name of 
the government of the United States, and planted the 
American flag in the public square, where the stars 
and stripes, and the eagle, still stream above thePalacio 
grande, or stately residence of ex-Governor Armijo. 
When the American flag was raised, a national salute 
of twenty-eight guns was fired from the hill east of the 
town, by Maj. Clark's two batteries of six pounders. 
At the same time the streets were filled with American 
cavalry, moving firmly and rapidly through the city, 
displaying their colors in the gayest and most gorgeous 
manner. This day we completed a march of twenty- 
nine miles, partly over a slippery road, (for a heavy 
rain had fallen the previous night,) and partly over a 
ragged, rocky way, through the mountain passes. 
After incredible exertions, and late at night, the bag- 
gage trains and the merchant wagons came into camp, 
a few of them having failed on the way, or fallen be- 
hind; so rapid was the march of our army during the 

!* The separate sovereignties which constitute the Mexican 
confederacy were formerly styled Departments. They are now 
called States. 

gen. Kearney's speech. 


whole day. Gen. Kearney selected his camp-ground 
on the hill commanding the town from the east, a bare, 
gravelly spot of earth, where neither wood nor grass 
was to be obtained. So constant was the army kept 
in motion, that the men took no refreshment during 
the day, nor w T ere the horses permitted to graze a 
moment. At night the men lay down to rest without 
eating or drinking, as they were almost overcome by 
fatigue. Our animals, for want of forage, were be- 
come feeble and incapable of further exertion. With- 
out a blade of grass or other food, they stood tethered 
%o their iron pickets, or sank to the earth of exhaustion. 
Many of them had performed their last noble day's 
service. Gen. Kearney had taken up his head-quar- 
ters in the Governor's palace, and caused the American 
colors to be raised above it. Thus the city of Santa 
Fe was bloodlessly possessed by the American forces, 

On the morning of the 19th, Gen. Kearney assem- 
bled the citizens of the town near the government 
building, and spoke to them in this manner, Robedou 
being the interpreter: 

"New-Mexicans! We have come amongst you to 
take possession of New Mexico, which we do in the 
name of the government of the United States. We 
have come with peaceable intentions and kind feelings 
towards you all. We come as friends, to better your 
condition and make you a part of the Republic of the 
United States. We mean not to murder you, or rob 
you of your property. Your families shall be free 
from molestation; your women secure from violence. 
My soldiers will take nothing from you but what they 
pay you for. In taking possession of New-Mexico 
we do not mean to take away your religion from you. 


Doniphan's expedition. 

Religion and government have no connection in our 
country. There, all religions are equal; one has no 
preference over another; the Catholic and Protestant 
are esteemed alike. 

"Every man has a right to serve God according to 
his heart. When a man dies, he must render to his 
God an account of his acts here on earth, whether 
they be good or bad. In our government all men are 
equal. We esteem the most peaceable man, the best 
man. I advise you to attend to your domestic pur- 
suits — cultivate industry — be peaceable and obedient 
to the laws. Do not resort to violent means, to cor- 
rect abuses. I do hereby proclaim that, being in pos- 
session of Santa Fe, I am therefore virtually in pos- 
session of all New Mexico. Armijo is no longer your 
governor. His power is departed. But he will 
return and be as one of you. When he shall return 
you are not to molest him. You are no longer Mexi- 
can subjects: you are now become American citizens, 
subject only to the laws of the United States. A 
change of government has taken place in New Mexico, 
and you no longer owe allegiance to the Mexican 
government. I do hereby proclaim my intention to 
establish in this Department a civil government, on a 
republican basis, similar to those of our own States. 
It is my intention, also, to continue in office those by 
whom you have been governed, except the governor, 
and such other persons as I shall appoint to office by 
virtue of the authority vested in me. I am your gov- 
ernor, — henceforward look to me for protection. " 

The general next proceeded to inquire if they were 
willing to take the oath of allegiance to the United 
States 5 government, to which having given their consent, 



he then administered to the Governor ad interim, the 
Secretary of State, the Prefecto, the Alcalde and 
other officers of State, the following oath: "Do you 
swear in good faith that under all circumstances you 
will bear allegiance to the laws and government of 
the United States, and thatthrough good and evil you 
will demean yourselves as obedient and faithful citi- 
zens of the same, in the name of the Father, and of 
the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. " Here 
shouts and huzzas were raised by the Mexicans for 
Governor Kearney. A very aged Mexican embraced 
him and wept. 

Gen, Kearney having administered a similar oath to 
various delegations from the different Pueblos who 
came to offer submission, tranquility and universal 
satisfaction, seemed to prevail. Our commander 
next ordered a flag-staff, one hundred feet high, to be 
erected in the public square, from the top of which 
the American flag now streams over the capital. 

Gen. Kearney's army was not well provisioned ; 
nor was it furnished, in all its parts, with stout, able, 
and efficient teams, such as the difficult nature of the 
country over which it had to pass, required. The 
commissary and quartermaster departments were 
wretchedly managed. During much of the time, ow- 
ing either to the neglect or incompetency of the heads 
of these departments, the general found it necessary 
to subsist his men on half rations. It repeatedly hap- 
pened that the wagons, particularly of the volunteer 
corps, were left so far behind during a day's march 
that they did not come into camp before midnight. 
Thus the men had to feast or famish by turns, owing 
to the gross and culpable neglect of government agents. 

Doniphan's expedition. 

The volunteer troops were furnished with very sorry 
and indifferent wagons and teams, wholly inadequate 
for such an expedition, whilst the regulars were fur- 
nished in the very best manner. Owing to an unac- 
countable arrangement by the War Department, the 
volunteer regiment was not allowed a full staff of offi- 
cers, and hence proceeded the ill-management of these 

Rumor and exaggeration are two grand evils m an 
army- While on the march to New Mexico we were 
one day startled at the news that the Mexicans had 
driven all their cattle and sheep into the distant moun- 
tains, deserted their villages and ranchos, and burnt 
the grass* upon the road. Had this been the case our 
animals must inevitably have perished. On another, 
we were perhaps told that a body of 8 or 10,000 
Mexicans and Pueblo Indians combined, wete advan- 
cing upon the road to meet us and give us battle. We 
were thus constantly kept in uncertainty, until experi- 
ence brought the matter to a test. These pernicious 
rumors were generally spread through the camp by 
the Mexican prisoners that were daily picked up on 
the road. When we came to the Mexican ranchos or 
farm houses, we found abundance of grass and thousands 
of horned cattle, and plenty of sheep and goats scatter- 
ed upon the hills and mountains. These flocks had each 
of them its respective shepherd. We did not molest 
them. We took nothing, not even a melon, an ear of 
corn, a chicken, a goat or a sheep, from those poor 

* Owing to the dryness of the climate in New Mexico the 
grass is parched and crisped at all seasons, and will almost as 
teadily take fire in August as in November. 



people, for which we did not pay the money. This gen- 
erous and christian conduct on the part of the American 
army completely secured the good wall and friendship 
of the Mexicans ; for they supposed, and were even 
taught by their priests and rulers to believe that they 
would be robbed, plundered, and murdered ; and the 
whole country ravaged by the invading army. By this 
means the rulers hoped to stimulate the common people 
to oppose the Americans. Their appliances, however, 
failed of success. The kind treatment the Americans 
uniformly extended towards those people is worthy of 
the highest praise, and will doubtless, before the tribu- 
nal of a community of men w^ho can justly appreciate 
the moral force of such an example, do the command 
more credit than the gaining of ten victories. 


Grazing Detachment — American Residents at Santa Fe — Her- 
kins — Gen. Kearney's Proclamation — New Mexico — Santa 
Fe — New Mexican Women — The Fandango — Lieut. Oldham 
— Deserters — The Express— A Pueblo Chief — Stamp Paper. 

The next day after the capture of Santa Fe and its 
occupation by the American troops, a heavy detail was 
made from the different companies to conduct the 
horses and other animals belonging to the command 
into the neighborhood of Galisteo, twenty-seven miles 
southeasterly from the capital, for the purpose of gra- 
zing them, forage being scarce and extremely difficult 
to be procured near town. This grazing party, to the 
command of which Lieutenant-colonel Ruff had been 
appointed, (the detachment from each company being 
under a lieutenant,) proceeded directly to the moun- 
tains and valleys of the Galisteo creek, where, finding 
grass and water abundant and of good quality, they 
made their encampment. This encampment, however, 
was afterwards changed from one place to another ac- 
cording as the pasturage demanded. This party of 
men was, at first, most scandalously neglected by the 
subsistence department at Santa Fe, supplies being 
sent them very sparingly and irregularly. After much 
complaint, however, they were more liberally provis- 
ioned. The stock, which had been exhausted by 
want of forage and long marches, was soon in a thri- 
ving condition, and again fit for service ; so fine and 


Kearney's proclamation. 


nutricious is the grass in the hill-country of New 

A few days previous to the Americans' entering 
Santa Fe, the American merchants and other Ameri- 
cans, resident there, were under continual apprehen- 
sion of being robbed, mobbed, and murdered by the 
enraged populace, whose supreme delight was best 
promoted by heaping reproaches on the " Texans" 
and " North American invaders," as they contempt- 
uously styled us. The Americans, however, locked 
their store rooms, barred up their houses, and resolved 
if an attack were made upon them, to occupy a strong 
building and unitedly withstand a siege until relief could 
be sent them by Gen. Kearney. They were not, how- 
ever, seriously molested, though frequently insulted. 

On the morning of the 19th August a serious diffi- 
culty occurred between two volunteers, one of them, 
his name Herkins, being intoxicated. The affray took 
place in the plaza under the eye of Gen. Kearney. — 
Capt. Turner, Maj. Swords and others were immedi- 
ately ordered to arrest the rioter. Herkins, with 
drawn sword, resisted. After giving and receiving 
several slight wounds, he was taken and confined. 
By the sentence of a court martial his wages were 
withheld and he was " drummed out of the service" 
of the country. 

Gen. Kearney's next official act, as the civil and 
military governor of the department of New Mexico, 
was the issuing of the following proclamation : 

Proclamation to the inhabitants of New Mexico, by Brig' 
adier-general S. W. Kearney, commanding the army 
of the United States in the same. 
As by the act of the Republic of Mexico, a state of war 


doniphan's expedition. 

exists between that government and the United States, and 
as the undersigned, at the head of his troops, on the 18th 
instant, took possession of Santa Fe, the capital of the de- 
partment of New Mexico, he now announces his intention 
to hold the department with its original boundaries (on both 
sides of the Del Norte) as a part of the United States, and 
under the name of the Territory of New Mexico. 

The undersigned has come to New Mexico with a strong 
military force, and an equally strong one is following close 
in his rear. He has more troops than necessary to put 
down any opposition that can possibly be brought agaih3t 
him, and therefore it would be folly and madness for any 
dissatisfied or discontented persons to think of resisting him. 

The undersigned has instructions from his government to 
respect the religious institutions of New Mexico, to protect 
the property of the church, to cause the worship of those 
belonging to it, to be undisturbed, and their religious rights 
in the amplest manner preserved to them. Also to protect 
the person and property of all quiet and peaceable inhabi- 
tants within its boundaries, against their enemies, the Eu- 
taws, Navajos, and others. And while he assures all that 
it will be his pleasure as well as his duty to comply with 
those instructions, he calls upon them to exert themselves in 
preserving order, in promoting concord, and in maintaining 
the authority and efficiency of the laws; and to require of 
those who have left their homes and taken up arms against 
the troops of the United States, to return forthwith to them, 
or else they will be considered as enemies and traitors, sub- 
jecting their persons to punishment and their property to 
seizure and confiscation, for the benefit of the public treas- 
ury. It is the wish and intention of the United States to 
provide for New Mexico a free government with the least 
possible delay, similar to those in the United States, and the 
people of New Mexico will then be called on to exercise the 
rights of freemen in electing their own representatives to 



the Territorial Legislature ; but until this can be done, the 
laws hitherto in existence will be continued until changed or 
modified by competent authority, and those persons holding 
office will continue in the same for the present, provided, 
they will consider themselves good citizens and willing to 
take the oath of allegiance to the United States. 

The undersigned hereby absolves all persons residing 
within the boundary of New Mexico, from further allegiance 
to the republic of Mexico, and hereby claims them as citi- 
zens of the United States. Those who remain quiet and 
peaceable, will be considered as good citizens and receive 
protection. — Those who are found in arms or instigating oth- 
ers against the United States, will be considered as traitors, 
and treated accordingly. Don Manuel Armijo, the late gov- 
ernor of this department, has fled from it. The undersigned 
has taken possession of it without firing a gun or shedding 
a drop of blood, in which he most truly rejoices, and for the 
present will be considered as governor of this territory. 

Given at Santa Fe, the capital of the territory of New 
Mexico, this 22d day of August, 1846, and in the 71st year 
of the independence of the United States. By the governor : 
S. W. KEARNEY, Brig. Gen. 

About this time Gen. Kearney came in possession 
of six pieces of artillery, understood to be the same 
that Gov. Armijo had at the Galisteo pass on the 18th, 
which place he abandoned on our approach ; and also 
a part of the ammunition carried out by Speyers and 
Armijo from Independence. These pieces of cannon 
were almost worthless, excepting one of them, a very 
fine Texan piece, inscribed with the name of General 
Lamar, President of Texas, which was taken in 1841 
by General Salezar from General McLeod near San 
Miguel. These pieces were temporarily added to 
Maj. Clark's two batteries. The New Mexicans made 


doniphan's expedition. 

use of copper slugs, instead of grape and cannister shot. 
They also had copper balls. 

New Mexico, whose climate is generally bland and 
salubrious, embraces within its ample territorial limits 
more than 200,000 square miles. Of this vast area, 
which includes a wilderness of bleak, desolate, unpro- 
ductive snow-capped mountains, many of whose sum- 
mits are 13,000 feet above the level of the sea, only 
the valleys which are susceptible of irrigation from 
constantly flowing streams, can be cultivated with any 
degree of success. It is traversed by numerous ele- 
vated mountain-ranges, the principal of which are the 
Sierra Madre, or Cordilleras, and the Sierra Blanco. 
Between these spreads out the magnificent, basin-like 
valley of the Del Norte, coursed by a broad, bright 
zone of w r ater, and dotted by towns, villages, ranchos, 
and farm houses. This valley contains the principal 
wealth of the state. Gardens richly blooming — or- 
chards surcharged with ripened fruit — vineyards bend- 


Note. — The Numbers, near the Encampments, show the 
regular order of the changes. — No. 1. is the only instance in 
which the regiment was all together; being afterwards broken 
up into detachments, and sent off into different parts of New 
Mexico. No. 2. shows the regiment decreased, &c. — Distance, 
from salient angle of Fort Marcy, to the Flag-staff, in the centre 
of the Plaza, six hundred and sixty-four yards. 

The Flag-staff is one hundred feet high ; it was made and 
erected by the volunteers. Fort Marcy mounts fourteen guns. 

t* p A N OT Sa'NT A F £ A K l> ITS E S ViROA'S. 



ing under the clustering grape — fields of wheat waving 
their golden harvests before the wind — shady groves 
of alamos, all irrigated by canals of clear, pure, rip- 
pling water, strongly contrast with the gigantic granite 
peaks, w T hich, blue as amethyst, tower high into the 
heavens. These mountains, beyond doubt, contain 
inexhaustible stores of mineral wealth. Besides gold, 
silver, lead and copper, bituminous and anthracite 
coal, black oxides, brimstone in its pure state, salt, 
and vast quantities of gypsum, are known to abound. 
Corn, wheat, rye, beans, pulse, pepper, and onions, 
are the staple productions of the country. Immense 
nerds of cattle, droves of horses and mules, and innu- 
merable flocks of sheep and goats feed upon the 
mountain pastures. The New Mexicans are empha- 
tically a pastoral people. The bold, unfailing moun- 
tain streams, with their foaming cascades and dashing 
cataracts, present fine facilities for manufacturing, 
and seem to invite enterprise. 

New Mexico contains, according to a census taken 
in 1844, a mixed population of 160,000 ; of which 
number one-third are Pueblo Indians, the original 
proprietors of the soil, who submitted to the Spaniards 
in the early conquest of the country— profess the 
Romish faith — have their churches and ecclesiastics, 
and yield an unforced obedience to the laws of the 
state, but live in villages, or Pueblos, isolated from 
other New Mexican settlements, and enjoy a social 
system of their own, refusing, for the most part, to 
intermarry with their Mexican neighbors. They still 
retain a rancorous hatred towards their conquerors. 
More recently, however, New Mexico, owing to her 
remoteness from the central government, has been 

doniphan's expedition. 


subject to the desolating incursions of the bordering 
tribes, and prostrated by feuds and intestine broils. 
Many bloody tragedies have been enacted there. 
Thus distracted and unsupported, she fell an easy 
prey to the victorious American arms. 

Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, occupies the 
site of an ancient Pueblo, and contains an estimated 
population of six thousand. It is situated on Santa 
Fe creek, a beautiful, clear stream, issuing out of the 
mountains towards the east, having its source in a 
lake. From this creek various canals part, above the 
town, and lead through the fields, gardens, and 
orchards, for the purposes of irrigation. Families use 
the water of the canals. Their houses, generally flat- 
roofed, and one story high, are built of sun-dried 
bricks, called adobes, in the Spanish language. In the 
city there are six Catholic churches, but no public 
schools, the business of education being intrusted to 
ecclesiastics. The streets are crooked and narrow. 
The whole presents very much the appearance of an 
extensive brickyard. The public square is about 
ninety yards, from north to south, and one hundred 
from east to west. The governor's residence, or 
palace, is situated on the north side of the Plaza. 
The architecture is of the rudest order. 

For many years, Santa Fe has been the port of entry 
for American goods, and the great emporium where 
the merchants of central Mexico annually meet the 
American caravans, to purchase their stocks. It is a 
city of considerable trade. 

The New Mexicans are generally under the medium 
size, and are of a swarthy, copper complexion ; though 
every shade of color may sometimes be met with, from 

[ Mexican Group. ] 



the fair Castilian to the darkest hue of the aborigines. 
They are hospitable, but ignorant and treacherous. 
The women, with few exceptions, are neither fair nor 
handsome, yet their dark, penetrating, lustrous, beam- 
ing eyes, peer out most captivatingly from the folds 
of their rebozos,* and their black, glossy ringlets of 
hair, which indeed constitutes their greatest beauty. 
They seem to possess more intelligence than the men, 
and are infinitely their superiors in vivacity and grace- 
fulness of demeanor. 

The New Mexicans, both males and females, have 
a great fondness for jewelry, dress, and amusements. 
For amusement, the fandango appears to be the most 
fashionable place of resort, where every belle and 
beauty presents herself, attired in the most costly 
manner, and displays her jewelry to the best advan- 
tage. To this place of recreation and pastime, which 
is generally a large, capacious saloon, or interior 
court, all descriptions of persons are allowed to come, 
free of charge, and without invitation. The fandango 
generally commences about nine o'clock, P. M., 
and the tolling of the church bells is the signal for 
the ladies to make their appearance at the saloon ; 
which they do almost simultaneously. The New 
Mexican ladies dress gaudily, but with little taste. 
They mostly wear dresses without bodies ; having 
only the skirt, and a long, loose, flowing scarf or 
wrapper, dextrously thrown about the head and 
shoulders, so as to supersede both the use of dress 
bodies and bonnets. There is but little order kept 
at these fandangoes, and still less attention paid to the 

* The rebozo is a long scarf, or wrapper, used by the Mexi- 
can ladies to cover the head and shoulders. 


doniphan's expedition. 

rules of etiquette.* A kind of swinging, gallopade 
waltz is their favorite dance — the cotillion is not much 
m vogue. Read Lord Byron's graphic description of 
the Dutch waltz, and then stretch your imagination to 
its utmost tension, and you will perhaps have some 
faint conception of the Mexican fandango. Such 
familiarity of position would be repugnant to the 
refined rules of polite society, in our country ; but 
among the New Mexicans, nothing is reckoned a 
greater accomplishment, than that of being able to 
pass handsomely through all the mazes of the waltz. 

There is one republican feature about these fandan- 
goes ; it is here that all classes, rich and poor, meet 
and intermingle ; as did the ancient Romans, at their 
Saturnalia, upon terms of equality. A sumptuous 
repast or collation is rarely ever prepared for the 
frolicsome coterie ; but always an abundance of knick- 
knacks, sweetmeats, and the exhilarating vino, or 
wine ; and although it costs a man but little, to attend 
the fandango, and mingle in the gleeful throng, yet it 
very much resembles the descent of iEneas to the 
kingdom of Pluto— it is easy enough to get there, but 
to return, — hie est labor. 

Second Lieut. Jas. S. Oldham, of the company 
from Jackson county, was arrested on the 24th, upon 
a charge of "disobedience of orders," by Lieutenant- 
colonel Ruff, and court-martialed on the 26th. He 
was deprived of his command and dismissed from the 
service " with a disability to serve in the armies of the 
United States for the period of twelve months. " 

* The Author speaks of the fashions which prevailed in 
New Mexico during the continuance of the American army in 
that country. 



Not knowing all the circumstances of the case, and 
not having heard the testimony before the court-mar- 
tial, the author's opinion were better withheld than 
expressed. The head and front of his offending, 
however, was his persisting, contrary to order, in the 
determination to leave the grazing encampment, near 
Galisteo, and proceed to Santa Fe, with the view of 
obtaining provisions for his men, who were then in 
pressing want. It has already been observed that this 
grazing party was supplied with the utmost parsimony. 

About this time, while all was quiet in camp, and 
in the capital, and universal satisfaction seemed to 
prevail, both among the conquerors and the conquered, 
six dragoons and two volunteers, without any appa- 
rent cause, deserted the army. The remembrance of 
the privations and hardships which they had suffered 
on the plains, and the thoughts of the still greater 
perils and sufferings yet to be encountered, perhaps 
determined them thus to sacrifice their honor and 
their usefulness, forgetting the duties which they owed 
to themselves, their friends and country. Whether 
they went over to the enemy, or returned to the States, 
was never certainly known. Arms, supposed to have 
been theirs, were subsequently found in the city of El 

The whole of New Mexico being thus in quiet pos- 
session of the American troops, while deputations from 
the various pueblos and villages, were daily arriving 
at the capital, offering submission to the general, and 
cheerfully taking the oath of allegiance to the United 
States' government, an express, borne by five men, 
three regular dragoons and two volunteers, was sent, 
on the 25th, from Santa Fe to Fort Leavenworth, to 


Doniphan's expedition. 

be forwarded thence to Washington, containing a full 
account of Gen. Kearney's conquest of New-Mexico, 
and asking further instructions from the War Depart- 
ment. The bearers of this express, having encoun- 
tered the severest trials on the plains during the 
inclement winter season, returned to Santa Fe some 
time after Christmas, 

Near this same time, the priest of San Filipe, and 
the curate of the churches in the valley of Taos, came 
to acknowledge the authority of the conqueror, receive 
his commands, and ask protection for the churches, 
and church property. The general having assured 
them that their temples of worship would be respected, 
and their u religion in the amplest manner preserved 
to them, " they returned home peaceably and favor- 
ably disposed towards the Americans, more subdued 
by kindness than by force of arms. They did not 
even forbear to speak in praise of the generous and 
magnanimous conduct of their conquerors.* 

Also a young Pueblo chief, with a few of his war- 
riors, came in to see the new governor. He said "he 
had heard of Gen. Kearney, and had come to see him ; 
that he desired to know what his intentions were * 
whether he intended to protect the Pueblos, or murdei 
them; that the priests had told him that the Americans 
would plunder and kill them, and take their wives and 
daughters away from them, and that such as they took 
prisoners they would brand on the face with a red- 
hot iron, and thus make them American citizens ; that 
he now desired to know if such was the truth ; that 

* It was not long before these same faithless priests and 
leaders, were detected in a conspiracy against the new govern- 
ment, fides Mexicana ! 



if it were so, he would go back to his people and en- 
courage them to fight the Americans; that it was better 
to die honorably, in defence of his people and coun- 
try, than to suffer these outrages. " He also stated 
that "Gov. Armijo had visited Taos, and persuaded the 
Pueblos to join his army: but that the wise-men of 
the Pueblos, — old, venerable men, who had great 
experience, and great knowledge, — told Armijo that 
it was useless to fight the Americans ; that they were 
a numerous people; that if he whipped the Ameri- 
cans in one battle, or destroyed one army, others 
would keep on coming from the east, as long as the 
sun continued to shine; and that finally they would 
kill all the Mexicans, and then kill the Pueblos, their 
allies. Moreover, that Armijo would run when the 
fight came on, and leave the Pueblos to be slaughtered 
by the enraged Americans; that they first desired to 
have an interview with the American commander to 
learn the truth of these things before they would go 
to war. 5 ' Gen. Kearney then asked him what other 
rumors he had heard, to which he replied, that it was 
useless to tell a man of his information and knowledge 
about the tales that came like the wind, and had no 
responsible source; that "reports were for women 
and children to listen to, not men. " Gen. Kearney, 
pleased with the boldness and magnanimity of the 
young chief, gave him some money and other pres- 
ents, and dismissed him with the assurances of his 

On the 29th, Gen. Kearney, having occasion to 
transfer some public property into the hands of a 
public functionary, took up a bit of blank paper and 
commenced writing, when the Alcalde, who hap- 


doniphan's expedition. 

pened to be present, remarked to the general that an 
instrument of writing was not legal unless it were 
drawn up on paper stamped with the government seal 
or coat-of-arms, for the State of New Mexico. He 
then stepped and brought a few sheets of the govern- 
ment paper to Gen. Kearney, politely observing " that 
the government sold it at only eight dollars per sheet, 
a very moderate sum to pay for having an important 
document strictly legal. " Without ceremony Gen. 
Kearney changed his purpose for the moment and 
wrote, in substance, as follows: "The use of the 
' stamp paper' by the government of New Mexico, 
is hereby abolished. Done by the Governor, 

S. W. Kearney, Brig. Gen. " 
"I will now,' 5 continued he, "take it at its real 
value, just as other paper. n The Alcalde was astoun- 
ded, for his prospects of further extortion were 
blasted. The common people, who had been com- 
pelled to pay the exorbitant sum of eight dollars for a 
sheet of paper, when an instrument of writing was 
wanted which required a seal, rejoiced that they were 
now relieved of a burdensome tax. It is thus, by acts 
of tyranny on the part of the government, that New- 
Mexico has been the abode of misery and slavery, 
instead of happiness and liberty. 



Supposed Rebellion — Departure for Alburquerque— Arrival at 
Del Gardo — Gen. Kearney and Capt. Reid — Rights of Vol- 
unteers — Error common to regular officers — Sham battle — The 
Rio del Norte — Irrigating canals — Algodones — Bernalillo — 
Alburquerque-— Peraita — Reception of the troops at San Tome 
— Lieutenant-colonel Ruff — Grand celebration — Return to the 

In consequence of certain rumors which were 
almost daily brought to Gen. Kearney, that the mal- 
contents, principally the friends and adherents of the 
deposed Governor Armijo, and some Pueblo Indians, 
were rallying and concentrating a large armed force 
somewhere in the vicinity of Alburquerque, with the 
view to make battle, and recover the capital from the 
hands of the Americans, he determined to silence 
these reports and disperse these " rebels " against his 
authority, by marching thither in person, and at the 
head of the following detachments of troops : One 
hundred artillerymen under Capts. Weightman and 
Fischer, forming an extra battalion, commanded by 
Maj. Clark, manning eight pieces of cannon; forty-five 
dragoons, under Capt. Burgwin, and fifty-five of the 
St. Louis volunteers, (Laclede rangers,) under Capt. 
Hudson, being attached to the dragoons, forming a 
squadron of one hundred men, commanded by Bur- 
gwin, the oldest captain; and five hundred mounted 
volunteers under command of the following officers: 



doniphan's expedition. 

The company from Jackson county furnished sixty- 
eight men under Lieut. Reed; the company from La- 
fayette, sixty, under Capt. Walton ; the company from 
Clay, sixty-seven, under Lieut. Sublette ; the company 
from Saline, fifty-four, under Capt. Reid ; the com- 
pany from Franklin, sixty-eight, under Capt. Stephen- 
son ; the company from Cole, sixty, under Capt. Par- 
sons ; the company from Howard, sixty, under Lieut. 
De Courcy; and that from Calaway, sixty-four, under 
Capt. Rodgers, with Lieut, col. Ruff at the head of the 
regiment, Maj. Gilpin in command of the first battal- 
ion, and Walton, the senior captain, in command of 
the second. Gen. Kearney, with about twenty-five 
of his staff-officers and body-guard, and generally fifty 
or sixty fawning, sycophantic Mexicans, rode at the 
head of the column, which consisted of about seven 
hundred and twenty-five mounted men, exclusive of 
the general's volunteer Mexican escort /* 

We left Santa Fe on the morning of the 2d of Sep- 
tember, with all our banners gaily fluttering in the 
breeze, the men being in high spirits and possessing 
cheerful minds, as there was once again some faint 
prospect of an engagement with the enemy. Men, seek- 
ing that just and laudable praise which is the reward 

*Quite too much consideration and kindness has been bestowed 
upon the treacherous Mexicans, by all the American generals. 
It was a common remark amongst the volunteers at Santa Fe, 
that Gen. Kearney would punish a volunteer for an offence, for 
which a Mexican would be excused — in other words that he 
" treated the Mexicans better than he did his own soldiers. " 
The same remark applies to the conduct of Gen. Wool, while 
at Parras, and to that of Gen. Worth, while in command at La 
Puebla. However, the blame more justly rests on the Wai 


of the brave, encountering perils with resolution, en- 
during privations with fortitude, traversing plains and 
deserts with patience, and surmounting obstacles of 
every nature w T ith courage, feel disappointed when 
the fleeing enemy bears with him those trophies which 
ought to belong to the victors, and which they would, 
should a battle ensue, take home with them as the evi- 
dences of their valor. It is the returning soldier, 
decorated with the spoils of the foe, and graced with 
the trophies of victory, more than he that has spent his 
strength in marches and pursuits, that receives the ap- 
plause of his countrymen. 

We took the main Chihuahua road leading directly 
south, with the view of striking the Rio Grande del 
Norte at the nearest point on account of water, as the 
country between Santa Fe and the Dei Norte (which 
is about thirty-five miles following the road) is re- 
markably dry and barren. The stream that waters 
the town of Santa Fe, 'and which furnishes abundant 
water power for grist and saw mills, entirely disap- 
pears in the sand about five miles below the city. 
This day's march was over an undulating, sterile 
country, intersected by numerous deep, dry gullies, im- 
passable by cavalry. The creeks were destitute of 
water ; the surface of the earth was in some spots 
sandy and in others rocky, mostly covered with wild 
sage in the low-lands and with clumps of dwarf ce- 
dar on the sides of the hills and mountains. There 
were few flowers or other vegetable productions wor- 
thy of note, the earth being almost entirely bare 
This part of New Mexico possesses considerable min- 
eral wealth, which can and no doubt will be fully de 
veloped whenever the government becomes settled so 


doniphan's expedition. 

as to afford security and protection to such scientific 
chemists as may desire to embark in a golden enter- 

A progress of near twenty-five miles brought us to 
our encampment on the Galisteo creek, at Del Gardo, 
about fifteen miles from the gold mines in the Galisteo 
mountains, commonly known by the appellative, El 
Placer. Here there was water in sufficient quantities 
for men and animals, but wood and grass could not be 
obtained without much labor. 

On the morning of the 3d, the sun rose brightly and 
beautifully beaming over the lofty ridges of mountains 
to the eastward, and seemed to promise more than his 
usual quantum of heat during the day. There was no 
possibility of procuring any water between our en- 
campment and the Rio del Norte, a distance of nearly 
fifteen miles. We prepared for an early start, put up 
our baggage, and filled our canteens with water. Much 
to the surprise and inconvenience of the volunteers, 
just as they were about moving off upon the march, 
Gen. Kearney rode round among the troops, and see- 
ing many of the men carelessly habited on account of 
the oppressive heat of the day, gave orders for "every 
man to put on his coat, or he would dismiss him from 
the service of the country." This order came like a 
clap of thunder in a clear sky, as the heat was very 
great, and the reason and philosophy of the order did 
not so readily appear to the volunteers, who were ac- 
customed to think for themselves, and consult their 
own convenience and comfort in matters of dress. — 
However, after some hesitation they obeyed the order, 
sacrificing their comfort to the generaPs taste, upon the 
principle that they had better concede a portion of 



their liberty than assert their rights under the circum- 
stances of the case, notwithstanding their opinions of 
law and propriety differed widely from the general's. 
The men thus reasoned one with another. "If we 
suffer this man to act the tyrant in things of small mo- 
ment, where is the security that he will not tighten 
the reins of his authority over us until we shall final- 
ly become his slaves and no longer be servants of 
the public, whose interest we believe we can promote 
as well, and whose cause we can serve as faithfully in 
one apparel as in another ? is our service then to be 
less valued because we choose to appear on parade in 
citizen's dress in preference to the soldier's uniform ? 
But on the contrary, if we contend one with another 
and our strength becomes divided, we shall presently 
fall a prey to the enemy, and instead of gaining the 
applause of our countrymen, after performing so many 
hard marches and suffering so many days with heat, 
and thirst, and hunger and sickness, we shall return 
home the most dishonored of men. Therefore let us 
make choice of the less of two evils." When the 
general came to where Capt. Reid had drawn up his 
men in wait for marching orders, observing them also 
attired carelessly, and feeling enraged that the captain 
had not enforced stricter discipline in regard to mili- 
tary dress, he said, " Captain, have your men no jack- 
ets ?" to which the captain replied, " Some of them 
have, and some of them have not." The general con- 
tinued, " Make your men, Captain Reid, put on their 
jackets, or I will dismiss them from the service — the 
government has paid them commutation for clothing, 
and expects every man to dress in a manner whole- 
some for military discipline." The captain rejoined, 


Doniphan's expedition. 

" My men, sir, came here, not to dress, but to fight 
the enemies of their country, and they are ever ready 
to be of service to you and the country in that way. 
As to the commutation which you say the government 
has paid my men for clothing, I must inform you that 
you misapprehend the truth. My men have never 
received one dime since they entered the service, and 
what money they brought from their homes with them 
they have already expended for bread while on half 
rations, owing to the neglect of your chief commis- 
sary. As to being dismissed from the service, sir, we 
do not fight for wages. If there is no place for us in 
the army, we will furnish ourselves and fight the ene- 
my wherever we may find him. Acting thus we shall 
not lose the respect of our countrymen." General 
Kearney bit his lips and rode off, giving orders for the 
march to commence. 

When volunteers, actuated by patriotic motives, 
leave their homes and friends — sacrifice pecuniary 
considerations — lay aside their peaceful pursuits and 
professions — throw down their implements of husban- 
dry, and abandon their workshops, they have the 
right to " equip and clothe" themselves as to them 
shall seem fit and proper ; and no officer can legally 
strip them of that right. When they obey all reason- 
able orders from higher authority, in a prompt and 
cheerful manner, they perform their whole duty to the 
country, as citizen soldiers. There never was, 
perhaps, better material in an army, than that which 
composed the Army of the West. Never did a set 
of men — never did veteran soldiers more cheerfully 
and resolutely perform their duty, or show themselves 
more submissive to order and law. Would to God 



they had been governed, in every respect, in a manner 
more worthy their obedience, their spirit, and their 
country. Many of the officers had performed their 
duty, up to this period, with signal ability ; and it is 
a much more pleasing task to add, than detract from 
their just amount of praise — to bear testimony of their 
worth, than censure their conduct — to defend, than 
despoil their reputation. General Kearney is a skillful, 
able, and sagacious officer, well fitted for the command 
of veteran troops ; and his commission, as a brigadier- 
general commanding the Army of the West, was 
regarded with general satisfaction. An officer should 
not be condemned for a few faults only, unless they 
be of great magnitude. General Kearney's greatest 
error consisted in an effort to reduce the volunteers to 
the same discipline, and treat them with the same 
rigid austerity, and dissociability, which he was wont 
to exercise over the regular troops under his command. 
This is wrong ; the former are bred to freedom, the 
latter trained to obedience ; — patriotism makes those 
soldiers — these, the study of arms ; — peace is the pur- 
suit of the one — war the profession of the other. — In 
battle, feeling, principle, honor, fire the one ; science, 
experience, discipline, guide the other. — They are 
equally brave. 

This is an error very common to officers of the 
regular army, when commanding volunteer corps. It 
was a great error with General Kearney, because 
three-fourths of his army consisted of volunteers— 
whose talent and good behavior entitled them to a 
respectful consideration, both at home and in the 
service of the country, and upon whose conduct and 
courage, mainly, depended the success and safety of 


Doniphan's expedition. 

the expedition. Conciliation, not force, was therefore 
proper to be employed by the commander, to retain 
the affections and undivided services of his troops. 
To make regulars of volunteers — to cramp their free- 
dom, and move them as the magician moves his auto- 
mata, is at once to extinguish that pride and spirit, 
that feeling of liberty, that chivalric patriotism, which 
renders them efficient troops, and which ought to 
make an officer, of General Kearney's standing, proud 
to command them. The historian ever feels more 
inclined to extenuate than magnify the faults of men 
high in power ; yet, justice and impartiality, and the 
cause of truth, require that he should unsparingly 
chastise the vices, as well as extol the virtues of those 
whose acts he essays to record. 

We pursued our way down the Galisteo, high spurs 
of mountains towering in wavy ridges towards the 
eastern bank of the Del Norte, and the huge masses 
of the Sierra de los Mimbres, lying imbedded in the 
blue mists to the westward. On leaving the Galisteo, 
by the left bank, and at the distance of four miles 
from it, the road forks. Here General Kearney and 
the dragoons took the right, which bears westward to 
the Indian town, Santo Domingo, a small Pueblo 
having three hundred inhabitants, while the main body 
of the army followed on the direct road to San Filipe, 
on the Del Norte. The chief, or alcalde of Santo 
Domingo, at the head of about seventy dashing cava- 
liers, with a white flag, came out to escort the general 
into town, by way of winning favor, and also thereby 
intending him a compliment. They made a sham 
charge upon the general, and performed several evolu- 
tions about him ; displaying consummate horseman- 



ship, and brandishing their pointed lances, as if to 
show what they were capable of doing, had their 
intentions not been peaceable and friendly. The 
whole of their movements were plainly beheld by the 
volunteers, from an eminence two or three miles dis- 
tant. At first, we were impressed with the belief 
that a skirmish was taking place between the forces 
of the alcalde and the general. But as we did not 
see the flash of their guns, or hear the roar of the 
cannon, and, after some time, saw the Indians and the 
general's troops all move off together towards the 
village, we were satisfied of the sham, and concluded 
the general might drink his wine and puff his cigaritos 
without our aid ; so we moved onward. 

We were now at no great distance from the Rio 
Grande del Norte, which all were very anxious to 
see, both on account of water, as we were very thirs- 
ty, and because we regarded it as the western limit of 
our present campaign. From the lofty bluffs on the 
eastern side, looking over the ledge of dry, rocky, 
treeless hills intervening, we could distinctly see the 
water in the channel of the river three miles distant. 
We hastened forward, and were soon on the banks of 
the noted stream at the foot of a conical shaped 
mound, resembling the frustrum of a pyramid. San 
Filipe is situated on the western bank of the river, — 
contains a population of about 600, and has a Catho- 
lic church. The place submitted to the Americans 
without opposition. These people were friendly dis- 
posed, and sold our men such things as they desired 
to purchase. In a beautiful Cottonwood grove, two 
miles below San Filipe, offering a delightful retreat, 
we encamped for the night, and enjoyed the luxury 


doniphan's expedition. 

of washing, bathing and slaking our thirst in the cele- 
brated Rio Bravo del Norte. The Mexicans brought 
into ourcamp great quantities of the Oporto grape, 
finely flavored and most luscious, matured in the most 
delightful climate. They were sold to the soldiers. 
The Mexicans transport these grapes, when matured, 
to Santa Fe and other markets, stored up in small square 
boxes, made of wickerwork, and packed on mules 
and asses. The air in the river valley is, at this sea- 
son, extremely bland and balmy. 

On the 4th we continued our march dow T n the river 
on the eastern bank. The valley of this river is gen- 
erally about six to ten miles wide, and is perhaps the 
best fruit country in the Department. The whole val- 
ley is finely irrigated by aqueducts which convey the 
water from the river above. It is done in this man- 
ner : a large canal leads the water out from the river 
generally along the base of the mountains or bluffs, 
encircling the entire area meant for tillage, while nu- 
merous smaller canals and ditches deriving their wa- 
ter from this, pass through all the lands, and irrigate 
the cornfields, gardens, vineyards, orchards and villa- 
ges. This valley is hedged in by lofty mountains on 
both sides, consisting of sand and flint stone inter- 
mixed with basalt, forming a lane or strait ; so were 
you to attempt to pass in any other direction than along 
the valley, your way would presently be barricaded, 
so steep and abrupt are the mountains. These people 
possess many rich vineyards, peach orchards, and 
groves of apricots, besides flocks of goats and sheep 
which feed in the mountains and on the hills. Also 
melons, onions, pepper, salsify, garlic, and other vege- 
tables abound. New Mexico, in places, is singularly 



destitute of timber. With the exception of a few 
clumps of dwarfish, wind-riven cedar on the over- 
hanging bluffs, and the occasional Cottonwood groves 
in the bottoms, the country is woodless, verdureless. 

The Rio del Norte is more than two thousand miles 
in length, and from two hundred and fifty to three 
hundred yards wide at this point, and is so shallow 
that it may be forded almost anywhere. The water 
is cool, clear, and palatable as it comes down from 
the mountains to the northward. This river is not 
navigable at this distance from the Gulf of Mexico. 

After a march of eight miles from our last encamp- 
ment we came to the city of Algodones, containing 
1000 inhabitants. The place submitted willingly and 
received us kindly, and gratuitously proffered us fruits, 
melons, and bread. This is one of the handsomest 
towns in New Mexico. The vineyards, yards, pleas- 
ure grounds, orchards and gardens are walled in neat- 
ly. The tops of the walls were bristling with cactus, 
to prevent theft and robbery. Here hundreds of Mexi- 
cans voluntarily fell in with the line of march, wel- 
comed us, and would often exclaim, by way of com- 
plimenting us and testifying their respect and friend- 
ship, "Bueno Americano." They expressed them- 
selves well pleased with the change of government 
and the new governor, and appeared to be proud of 
the idea of being considered citizens of the great 
American republic. In conversation with an intelli- 
gent Mexican, who spoke some broken words of Eng- 
lish, inquiry was made what had become of the late 
governor, Armijo : — he laughingly replied ; "Armijo 
d — n — d rascal , gone to the d — Z." 

Twelve miles further we came to Bernalillo, a small 


doniphan's expedition. 

town containing a population of about 500. After a 
farther advance of four miles we arrived at Sandia, 
of which the population is 300. These towns are in- 
habited by a mixed race of Mexicans and Pueblo In- 
dians. They offered us no resistance. On both banks 
of the river the towns, villages, and ranchos or farm 
houses cluster so thickly together that it presents the 
appearance of one continued village from Algodones 
to San Tome, a distance of nearly sixty miles, resem- 
bling in some small degree that beautiful succession 
of stately mansions and farm houses which line the 
St. Lawrence from Kingston to Montreal, except that 
the Mexican houses are built of adobes or sun-dried 
bricks, having flat, parapetted roofs and small win- 
dows. This day's march was twenty-four miles. Our 
camps for the night were commonly placed near the 
river or an acequia* on account of water. 

Alburquerque,the seat of the governor's private resi- 
dence, his native town, and the place at which we had 
some anticipations of meeting him at the head of his 
troops, was reached after a march of eight miles. Early 
in the morning (September 5th) the advance was 
sounded by the bugles ; the long files were soon mov- 
ing down the river, followed by the artillery and bag- 
gage train. Our lines were arranged in order, each 
company in its proper place, officers and men at their 
respective posts, and our colors gallantly streaming 
above us as we entered the town. On our approach 
a salute of twenty guns (escopetas) was fired from the 
balustraded top of the Catholic church. This dispel- 

* Acequia is the Mexican word for canal. 



led our apprehensions, or rather put an end to our 
hopes of an engagement with Col. Armijo.* 

These people received us with demonstrations of 
friendship, and submissively took the oath of allegi- 
ance to our government. Melons, grapes, apples, 
peaches, apricots and pears were brought out to us by 
the inhabitants, which the soldiers purchased liberally. 
This town, numbering about 800 inhabitants, takes its 
name from the apricot groves in its vicinity, this fruit 
being called by the Mexicans, alburquerque. Cranes, 
geese, ducks, brants, swans, and pelicans are found 
on the Del Norte. Very little dew or rain falls in this 
valley, although it rains or rather showers almost every 
day in the mountains. 

* In addition to the various intrigues by which Col. Armijo 
crept into power in New Mexico, the following is confidently 
asserted to be true by one who has resided thirteen years in that 
country. In his early life Don Manuel Armijo was employed 
as a vaquero or herder of cattle in the mountains east of Albur- 
querque. About this time three wealthy citizens of New Mexico, 
Pino, Chavez, and one other, purchased 36,000 head of sheep, 
and started with them to the southern markets of Durango and 
Zacatecas. They spent one night in Alburquerque, during which 
Armijo came to them and engaged to drive sheep as one of their 
shepherds. He continued in this employment until they arrived 
in the Great Jornada or Desert intervening between El Paso and 
Laguna de los Patos, where he clandestinely took leave of them, 
disguising himself as an Apache chief, collected twenty or thirty 
Apaches about him, and intercepted the flocks of his employers, 
killing some of the shepherds and driving the rest back to Ei 
Paso. Having divided the booty, Armijo and one Mexican ac- 
complice, putting off their Indian disguise, drove their share of 
the flock to Durango, sold them, pocketed the change, and re- 
turned to their former employments in New Mexico. This trick 
and other similar intrigues furnished Armijo with means to in- 
gratiate himself into public favor. 


doniphan's expedition. 

The army, after a march of sixteen miles, encamped 
on the river, eight miles below Alburquerque. 

This morning (6th) a deputation of some thirty well- 
dressed, intelligent-looking Mexicans, came up from 
Peralta, to offer submission to the general, whom they 
saluted as their new governor, assuring him that all 
was tranquil and orderly on the Rio Abajo, and that 
the people there desired to be our friends. They be- 
sought that their lives, families, and property, might 
be protected, of which being assured, they departed. 
The army having progressed eight miles, nooned at a 
beautiful cotton-wood grove, near the margin of the 
river, which, from its regularity, has the appearance 
of being artificial. Near the bluffs, on the east side 
of the river, are several large sand-drifts, or mounds 
of sand, as fine and white, almost, as the driven snow. 
These ephemeral sand-mountains continue to accumu- 
late as long as the wind drives from the same point 
of the compass, but the current of the wind veering, 
they are swept away in less time than was required 
for their formation. At this place the grass was only 
moderate — wood scarce — blue pinks and other flow- 
ers were found. The flora of the Del Norte valley is 
rich, varied and interesting. Here we pitched our 
camps to spend the day, as it was the Sabbath, and 
as we were much in need of rest.* 

* The night we lay at this grove, the moon shone brightly. 
A small party of men having passed the sentry, went down to 
Peralta, where we expected to amuse ourselves a few hours 
at a Mexican fandango. In this, however, we were disap- 
pointed, for only the homeliest women, such as we cared not to 
dance with, made their appearance at the saloon, the young and 
fair senoritas being shy of men who wore side-arms. Returning 
in disgust soon after, we fell amongst the ditches and canals, 



While we were marching down the valley of the 
great River of the North, feasting upon the fruits and 
melons of that sunny climate, it was impossible not to 
contrast our condition, as a triumphant army, with 
that of the wretched, and ill-fated Texan prisoners, 
who were captured near San Miguel, and conducted 
in chains and under guard down the same road, over 
the same ground, emaciated with hunger and ill-usage, 
benumbed by the cold of winter, faint with sufferings, 
sinking under fatigues, and inhumanly butchered, by 
order of that monster of cruelty, Gen. Salezar, w T hen 
they became too feeble to endure the toils and hard- 
ships of the march. The remembrance of these out- 
rages, practiced upon Texan and American citizens, 
so incensed the soldiers, that they meditated wreaking 
their vengeance upon the heads of unoffending Mexi- 
cans. However, the more humane sentiment prevailed, 
that the innocent ought not to suffer for the guilty — 
that a magnanimous forbearance and forgiveness of 

and, having climbed several walls, at length fell into a vineyard, 
surcharged with clusters of the most delicious grapes. This 
was a fortunate mis-hap ; for drawing our sabres, we cut off the 
large, ripe, enticing clusters, and carried an abundance of them 
to our companions in camp. These bunches were not, perhaps, 
as large as those the Hebrews hung upon a staff, and upon the 
shoulders of two men, brought down from Eschol, but they 
were, no doubt, as luscious. Of course the sentinels must have 
their share as we returned to camp. 

Another party straggling about with similar motives met with 
more difficulty ; for a part of them, carelessly scaling the walls 
of a vineyard -in quest of grapes, jumped down on the inside, 
which was several feet lower than the ground on the outside. 
Having satisfied their appetites, they were unable to return. 
Their companions, who had remained without, were compelled 
to pull them over the walls by means of lariats, 

114 Doniphan's expedition. 

injuries were more christian and praise- worthy than 
the spirit of revenge. This reflection saved them. 

Progressing on the 7th about three miles, we passed 
the small town, Peralta, the population of which is 
about three hundred. This town is the place of resi- 
dence of the Chavez family, the brothers and relations 
of the Chavez, who was murdered by Capt. McDan- 
iePs band of marauders on Cow creek, a branch of the 
Little Arkansas. They are wealthy, and have chiefly 
educated their sons in the United States. They are 
friends to the Americans. The valley of the Del 
Norte heightens in interest, and in the richness and 
variety of its grain and fruit productions, as you de- 
scend towards the South; while the population grad- 
ually becomes more intelligent, and less mixed with 
the Pueblo Indian races, speaking a language more 
nearly resembling the Castilian, than the inhabitants 
in the more northern districts. At the distance of 
about five miles below Peralta, we arrived at San 
Tome, a small town containing eight hundred inhabit- 
ants. This place was named in honor of one of the 
Patron Saints of the country. Here the people were 
assembled from all the neighboring villages, and ran- 
chos to the number of three thousand, for the purpose 
of celebrating the anniversary of the Holy Vision, or 
the Inception of the Virgin Mary. The occasion was 
rendered doubly grand when the inhabitants of the 
place were informed of the arrival of Gen. Kearney 
and his troops, as they were seemingly anxious, both 
to testify their respect for the new governor, and also 
the more effectually to impress us with an idea of the 
pompous character of the church, to make a dazzling 
exhibition of its commemorative rites. They were 



ignorant of the fact, however, that we were plain 
republicans, and rather detested, than admired, their 
unmeaning pomp, and senseless mockery of religion. 
It should be observed here, that the doctrines of Ca- 
tholicism, or of the Romish faith, are neither under- 
stood, nor practiced in their purity, by the laity or 
clergy of New Mexico. Error has crept into the 
church. The worship has become encumbered by 
absurdities and the grossest ceremonies. The church 
is benighted. u Darkness has covered the earth and 
gross darkness the people." Hence their worship is 
little better than a caricature, on the more enlightened 
worship of the Catholic church in the United States, 
and other christian countries. 

The general and his staff took up their quarters in 
town, while the volunteers and regulars encamped in 
the suburbs. About 8 o'clock at night the town was 
most brilliantly illuminated by the pine faggots that 
blazed from all the walls of the city, and from the tops 
of the churches and the private houses. The general 
wks saluted by the discharge of musketry ana ~>sco- 
petas, as he entered the town. For four hours an 
incessant discharge of fire-arms, and the throwing of 
sky-rockets and fire-balls were kept up. The elements 
were lurid with long, zig-zag streams of fire for three 
hundred feet high. The catheron- wheel made a circle 
of red light like a dizzy comet. These rockets would 
sometimes explode in the air, and sometimes fall 
among the throng and explode, producing great con- 
fusion and tremendous shouts of laughter. 

At the same time that all this was going on, in an- 
other part of the public square, there were, perhaps, 
fifteen hundred persons, mostly women, boys and 


doniphan's expedition. 

girls, sitting on the ground, listening to a comedy or 
some kind of theatrical exhibition, which was being 
performed by several ladies and gentlemen on a stage 
erected in a large piazza fronting the square. Every- 
thing was said in the Spanish language, so that the 
Americans who were present, (very few of whom 
could speak in that tongue,) were unable to appreciate 
the merits of the play, or say whether it was original, 
or whether it was from Shakspeare or the Bible. The 
women were promiscuously intermingled with the 
men, and the music of instruments, with the discharge 
of rockets, fire-arms, and the shouts of the throng. 
The w T hole made horrid discord. The pageant would 
have been imposing had it been attended with order 
and solemnity. Was this a serving God in Spirit and 
in Truth?" 

This strange performance attracted the attention of 
such of the men as were struck with its novelty. Some 
went, induced by curiosity, others that they might gain 
information of what was going on. When a goodly 
number of men had left camp and gone into town to 
witness what might be seen there, Lieutenant-colonel 
Ruff sent Lieut. Sublette, the officer of the guard that 
night, with a file of men, who, proceeding into town, 
picked up such of the soldiers as had left camp with- 
out permission, and, having collected seventy or eighty 
in this way, who offered no resistance, brought them 
to the Lieutenant-colonel's tent, who immediately or- 
dered them to be detailed as an extra guard for the 
next day. Ruff, whose popularity had been constantly 
decreasing, was now become odious to the men. — 
They held meetings in the camp. Some advised that 
he should no longer be allowed to hold the command ; 



others that they should baptize him in a filthy lake 
hard by ; while others again thought the best means 
of treating him would be to tie two asses together 
with a lariat and make one of them pass on one side 
of his tent and the other on a different side, and thus 
drag his tent down and roll him topsy-turvy in his 
sleep. " He would then rise," they said, " like Rip 
Van Winkle from forty years of slumber." All these 
expedients failing, it is said that the door of his tent 
was thrown full of the entrails of the sheep which had 
been slaughtered for the use of the army. His bed- 
ding was therefore blooded and his tent filled with 
the stench. 

On the next day this celebration was renewed. The 
church was crowded to overflowing, though ample 
enough to contain two thousand persons. The altar 
was lighted up by twenty-four candles. Six priests 
officiated. Gen. Kearney and staff officers and also 
some of the officers of the volunteer corps were pres- 
ent, and looked and no doubt felt supremely ridiculous, 
each one holding a long, greasy, tallow candle in his 
hand, which was to be blown out and re-lighted at 
certain intervals during the ceremonies. But it is a 
good maxim perhaps, "when you are in Rome to do 
as Rome does." Every Mexican that entered the 
church bowed and worshipped the Holy Virgin, then 
the infant Saviour in the manger, and then the cruci- 
fied Saviour on the Cross. A very aged and decrepid 
lady came in much affected, bowed before the Saviour 
and worshipped him, and tremblingly wiped away her 
falling tears on the robes with which the image was 

During the whole time singing, instrumental music, 


Doniphan's expedition. 

and the firing of musketry were strangely commingled, 
The same airs were played in the church gallery on 
the violin that were usually played at the Mexican 

The Padre walked about the plaza amongst the 
crowd after the conclusion of the ceremonies, while 
four men suspended over his head a gilded canopy. 
He was also preceded by a file of men firing their es- 
copetas, and followed by a number of altar boys throw- 
ing rockets, which kept up a continual racket, making 
the heavens dizzy with streams of fire. 

As already observed, the Mexicans are remarkably 
fond of gaming and other amusements. Accordingly 
towards evening, horse racing, dancing, and gambling 
occupied the attention of the throng. Great quanti- 
ties of ripe fruit, grapes, melons, sweet-cakes, and 
various other commodities, were brought hither for 
sale by the market women, upon asses and sumpter 

San Tome, which is about one hundred miles from 
the capital, was the southern terminus of our cam- 
paign. We returned to Santa Fe, arriving there on 
the 13th, after an absence of twelve days; Maj. Gilpin 
being left, with a detachment of men to take care of 
the stock in the neighborhood of Del Gardo. 

This campaign, which was effected without blood- 
shed, was attended by some beneficial results. Gen. 
Kearney, in his proclamation of the 22d of August, 
had promised protection to such New Mexicans as 
should peaceably acquiesce in his government, both 
against the depredations of the Indians and from acts 
of violence on the part of their conquerors. He had 
engaged to defend their persons from harm, and to 



preserve their rights and liberty in the amplest man- 
ner to them. He now visited the richest portion of 
the Department, that the people might see the conduct 
of his soldiers, and have confidence in the efficiency 
of the protection he had promised. The civil beha- 
vior of the troops towards the inhabitants greatly con- 
ciliated those who were disaffected towards the Ameri- 
can government. 


Territorial Laws — Mexican Printing Press — Appointments 
to office — Disease* — Fort Marcy — Battle of Los Llanos — The 
Election — Detachments ordered to Abiquiu and Cebolletta — 
Gilpin's Return — Colonel Doniphan and Hall — General 
Kearney and the Apache Chief — General Kearney's departure 
for California — Conduct of the Soldiers. 

During General Kearney's absence on his excur- 
sion to San Tome, nothing of very great moment 
transpired at Santa Fe. Colonel Doniphan remained 
in command of the troops which were left at the capi- 
tal — attended to the administration of the laws, as 
governor of the department — superintended the erec- 
tion of Fort Marcy, on the hill overlooking Santa Fe 
to the northward, and completed, by the aid of Wil- 
lard P. Hall, the " Organic Laws and Constitution" 
for the government of the new territory. 

The American flag, liberty's emblem, continued to 
stream bravely from the top of the tall staff, erected 
for the purpose, in the Plaza. A civil government 
was established and put in motion. The constitution 
and laws for the government of the new territory, 
which had been drawn up with much haste, were 
chiefly derived from the laws of Missouri and Texas, 
and the Federal Constitution. The department of 
New Mexico was styled " The Territory of New 
Mexico in the United States." 

In the capital was found, upon the arrival of Gen. 



Kearney at that place, a small printing-press, which 
was used for printing public laws, notices, advertise- 
ments, proclamations, manifestos, pronunciamentos, 
and other high-sounding Mexican documents, in the 
form of pamphlets and handbills. With this poor 
apology for a printing-press, and such worn type, and 
indifferent ink, paper, and other materials as chanced 
to be about the establishment, the constitution and 
laws of the territory were published. As the Spanish 
language has no W, a difficulty presented itself, in 
regard to the type, which was at length obviated by 
the substitution of two V's for one W. In this man- 
ner were the constitution and laws printed, both in 
the Spanish and English languages, in double column, 
placed in juxta-position on each page. The arduous 
and difficult task of translating the laws into the Span- 
ish, was assigned to Captain David Waldo, whose 
thorough acquaintance with the language and customs 
of the Mexicans, as well as accomplished general 
scholarship, not only qualified him for the undertaking, 
but rendered him eminently useful on several subse- 
quent occasions during the campaign. 

To the end that the machinery of this new govern- 
ment might be speedily put into operation, General 
Kearney, acting under authority from the President, 
made the following appointments to office, viz. : 
Charles Bent to be governor of the Territory; Don 
Aduciano Virgil, secretary ; Richard Dalian, mar- 
shal ; Francis P. Blair, Jun. ? U. S. district attorney; 
Eugene Leitensdoffer, auditor of public accounts ; and 
Joab Houghton, Antonio Jose Otero, and Charles 
Baubien, judges of the Supreme Court. Some of 
these men were Americans, and others New Mexi- 


doniphan's expedition. 

cans, the interests of both parties being consulted in 
the appointments. Thus was another star added to 
our constellation. 

While the army lay inactive at Santa Fe the men 
did not quarter in houses, for this was impracticable 
unless they first dispossessed Mexican families, which 
they did not think proper to do, but pitched their tents 
on the bare earth (which was covered with sand and 
gravel) where they both slept, and prepared and ate 
their food. Therefore by reason of exposure and the 
places of dissipation in the city, from which it was 
impossible to restrain them, very many of them took 
sick, many of them died, and others, lingering under 
a slow and wasting disease, soon became unfit for ser- 
vice and were discharged. Thus our numbers con- 
tinually decreased, the hospitals being filled with in- 
valids infected with various loathsome diseases. 

On the 10th of September, Dr. Vaughan, assistant 
surgeon, who had been left at Fort Bent in charge of 
the sick, (about sixty in number,) arrived at Santa Fe 
in company with Lieut. Ingalls of the 1st dragoons, 
commanding a small detachment, and Lieut. Abert of 
the topographical corps, and such of those who had 
been sick as survived and were able to pursue on and 
rejoin the army. Whether Dr. Vaughan treated the 
men with that attention and kindness which the con- 
dition of the sick requires, (especially on a campaign 
where few comforts can be administered to them at 
best,) was questioned by those who were under his 
direction. Their judgment, however, may have been 
the result of prejudice. 

Fort Marcy, commanding the city from an eminence 
towards the north, was laid off by Lieut. Gilmer, of 



the topographical corps, and L. A. Maclean, a volun- 
teer of Reid's company ; and built by the volunteer 
troops, a certain number of men being detailed each 
day for the purpose. Those who labored ten days or 
more consecutively received a compensation of eigh- 
teen cents per day in addition to their regular allow- 
ance. The figure of this fort is that of an irregular 
tri-decagon, and is sufficiently ample to mount a great 
number of cannon and accommodate 1000 soldiers. 
Its walls are massive, thick and strong, and are built 
of adobes two feet long, one foot broad, and six inches 
thick. It is a strong fortress, and perpetuates the 
name of the present Secretary of War. 

By this time such Mexican families as had fled to 
the fastnesses of the mountains, upon the approach of 
the Americans, were returning to their homes and 
gradually gaining confidence in the new government. 
The administration of justice appeared to be conducted 
upon safer and broader principles than had hitherto 
been known in New Mexico. Industry, virtue, and 
honesty, and education, which is the parent of these, 
and which had been singularly neglected in that coun- 
try, were encouraged and rewarded. Society seemed 
to be re-forming and re-establishing upon a new and 
republican basis. Thefts, robberies, riots, and mur- 
ders, were punished with the utmost rigor. Thus law 
and order prevailed over anarchy and misrule — tran- 
quility was soon restored throughout the territory — 
and general satisfaction reigned.* 

On the 17th of September, Lieutenant-colonel Ruff, 
of the 1st regiment of Missouri mounted volunteers, 

* At a later period the New Mexicans grew weary of their 
conquerors, and desired new rulers and a new government. 


Doniphan's expedition 

in consequence of having received a captain's com- 
mission in the United States' army, and also feeling 
conscious that a large majority of the regiment were 
unwilling longer to suffer his government, and despi- 
sed his efforts to extinguish in their bosoms that spirit 
of freedom and high-toned chivalry which make men 
proud of their country and of her service, resigned 
his command. The volunteers were ever ready to 
yield a willing and unforced obedience to his orders ; 
for this was wholesome for discipline. But they were 
obstinate when driven. Col. Ruff, though illy quali- 
fied to govern volunteer troops, has some experience 
in military affairs, is well acquainted with tactics, and 
neither to "extenuate nor aught set down in malice," 
is certainly a brave man and a good soldier. 

At a subsequent period Mr. Ruff, as captain of a 
mounted rifle company, rendered some very important 
service in Gen. Scott's division of the army. On the 
29th of July, 1847, Capt. Ruff was dispatched by 
Gen. Smith with a squadron, composed of one com- 
pany of the 2d dragoons under Lieut. Hawes, and his 
own company of mounted riflemen, in all eighty-six 
men, to attack the town of San Juan de los Llaflos.— 
Capt. Ruff, finding about fifty cavalry drawn up in 
front of the town, who retired upon his approach, di- 
vided his command into three parts, and entered the 
town cautiously, towards the centre of which the stone 
houses and churches were filled with armed men. — 
Lieut. Hawes first received the enemy's fire, where- 
upon dismounting and forming his men on foot, and 
being joined by Lieut. Walker of the mounted rifles, 
they very spiritedly returned the fire. The other party 
under Capt. Ruff advancing at the same time, they 


drove the enemy from house to house with great 
slaughter, until they reached the plaza. The fire of 
the riflemen was astonishingly destructive. Here two 
of the principal houses, one of them loop-holed, were 
defended with great obstinacy, but were finally carried. 
A party was now organized to assault the church, from 
the towers of which a continual fire had been kept up. 
But when the storming party began to advance, a 
white flag was hung out. Hereupon the firing ceased 
and the Mexicans capitulated. In this engagement 
the Mexicans lost forty-three killed and fifty-four 
wounded. Only one of the Americans was wounded 
— none killed. 

It was this day that William Bray, a man belonging 
to Capt. Stephenson's company, became intoxicated 
and entirely incontrolable. After swearing and swag- 
gering in a most unbecoming manner, resisting every 
effort which was made to pacify him, he seized his 
butcher-knife and made threats against the life of his 
captain. The captain for some time carefully avoided 
him and endeavored to persuade him to his duty, but 
all in vain — he rushed furiously into the captain's tent 
with knife drawn and made an attempt upon his life. 
The captain, in self-defence, drew a pistol and shot 
Bray through the heart, who fell dead in an instant 
with his knife clenched in his hand. This occurrence 
was the more lamentable, that Bray was sixty-three 
years of age, and had been one of Jackson's soldiers 
at the battle of New Orleans. 

On the morning of the 18th, an election was or- 
dered by Gen. Kearney to fill the vacancy occasioned 
by the resignation of Lieutenant-colonel Ruff, which 
resulted in the choice of Capt. Congreve Jackson over 


doniphan's expedition. 

Maj. William Gilpin, by a majority of one hundred 
and eighty-three votes. Capt. Jackson's place was 
supplied by the election of EL H. Hughes to fill the 
vacancy ; the same who commanded as major in Gen- 
try's Missouri Regiment of volunteers, at the battle of 
Okechubee in Florida in 1837. He was chosen from 
the ranks. 

During this day a squadron of two companies, 
(Maldo's and Stephenson's) under command of Maj. 
Gilpin was dispatched to the little town of Abiquiu, 
on the Rio de Chaiia, to keep the Indians in check in 
that part of the territory, and also a detachment of 
three companies, (Parson's, Reid's and Hughes',) un- 
der Lieutenant-colonel Jackson, was ordered to pro- 
ceed to the town of Ceballeta, on the Rio Puerco, 
about one hundred and twenty miles south-westerly 
from the capital, for a like purpose. These detach- 
ments were to remain at their respective posts until 
Col. Doniphan took up the line of march for Chihua- 
hua, when they were to rejoin him in that expedition. 
This expedition was to commence its march against 
the State and city of Chihuahua, immediately upon 
the arrival of Col. Price's command at Santa Fe, in 
conformity to the following order, viz : 

General orders No. 30, Sec. 2. 

"When all the companies of Col. Price's regiment 
shall have reached here, Col. Doniphan will proceed 
with his regiment to Chihuahua, and report to Brig- 
adier-general Wool for duty. 

By order of Brig. Gen, S. W. Kearney. 

[Signed,] H. S. Turner, Capt. A. A. A. Gen." 

It was not even doubted for a moment, by the most 
incredulous, that Gen. Wool's division would have 



taken possession of Chihuahua long before Col. Don- 
iphan could possibly reach that place, and the latter 
did not at first so much as anticipate the honor of co- 
operating with the general in the reduction of the 

MERLY the Head Quarters of the Captains-Gen- 

For it was well known throughout the United States, 
as well as in the " Army of the West, " that Chihua- 
hua was the unqualified destination of Gen. Wool's 

On the 20th, a deputation of Eutaws, or more prop- 
erly Yutas, was brought in by Maj. Gilpin, to hold 
a council with the general, who made a speech to 
them through his interpreter, and gave them much 
good advice. On their part they promised to be 
peaceable, orderly, to respect the lives and property of 
the Mexicans, and to be obedient to the laws of the 
United States which were now extended to the terri- 
tory of New Mexico. The general made them some 
trifling presents, which, however, were esteemed of 
great value among them, and they departed apparent!; 
well satisfied. 

The same day an express arrived at the capital 
from Col. Price, informing the general that he was 
short of provisions, and asking fresh supplies. He 
was promptly furnished. This was the first, and only 
reliable information we had received of the colonel 
and his forces, since they left Fort Leavenworth. 
They were then at the Cimarron springs, nearly three 
hundred miles from Santa Fe, and were expected to 
arrive in fifteen or twenty days. By this express infor- 
mation was also brought, that Willard P. Hall, a private, 


doniphan's expedition. 

volunteer soldier, was elected to Congress, from one 
of the districts in Missouri, by a large majority. Hall, 
Lucas, and myself, were in one of the departments of 
the governor's house transcribing the new Constitution 
and laws of the territory, when CoL Doniphan entered 
bringing the intelligence. Hall was not moved or 
elated, but behaved very calmly. It is especially 
creditable to CoL Doniphan, that he should have been 
the first to announce to Mr. Hall the news of his suc- 
cess, when the latter and Col. Doniphan were strongly 
opposed in politics, and had often met each other on 
the stump or rostrum during a heated political contest. 
But such is the magnanimous character of Col. Doni- 

September 23d, the chief of one branch of the 
Apaches, with about thirty of his tribe, came to hold 
a "grand council 99 with the Governor-general. The 
general made a long speech to them through an inter- 
preter, encouraging them to industry, and peaceful 
pursuits, and particularly to the cultivation of the soil, 
as the surest and best mode of procuring an honorable 
subsistence ; "that they must desist from all robberies, 
and the committing of all crimes against the laws of 
the territory; that if they did not he would send his 
soldiers amongst them and destroy them from the 
earth; but if they would be peaceable towards their 
white brethren he would protect and defend them 
as he would the New Mexicans, and make them all 
brothers to the white people, and citizens of the same 
republic, and children of the same father, the Presi- 
dent, at Washington city." 

To all these things the venerable Sachem replied in 
a spirit worthy his tribe, setting forth the wishes of 



his people in a strain of bold, commanding eloquence, 
which has ever characterized the aboriginal orator. 
He said : " Father, you give good advice for me and 
my people; but I am now old, and unable to work, 
and my tribe are unaccustomed to cultivating the soil 
for a subsistence The Apaches are poor ; they have 
no clothes to protect them from the cold, and the game 
is fast disappearing from their hunting grounds. You 
must, therefore, if you wish us to be peaceable, speak 
a good word to the Comanches, the Yutas, the Nava- 
jos and the Arapahoes, our enemies, that they will 
allow us to kill buffalo on the great plains. You are 
rich — you have a great nation to feed and clothe you 
— I am poor, and have to crawl on my belly like a 
cat, to shoot deer and buffalo for my people. I am not 
a bad man; I do not rob and steal; I speak truth. 
The Great Spirit gave me an honest heart, and a 
straight tongue. I have not two tongues that I should 
speak forked. 

"My skin is red, my head sun-burnt, my eyes are 
dim with age, and I am a poor Indian, a dog, yet 
I am not guilty. There is no guilt there, (putting his 
hand on his breast,) no! I can look you in the face 
like a man. In the morning of my days my muscles 
were strong; my arm was stout ; my eye was bright; 
my mind was clear: but now I am weak, shriveled 
up with age, yet my heart is big, my tongue is straight. 
I will take your counsel because I am weak and you 
are strong. " 

The general then gave them some blankets, butch- 
er-knives, beads, mirrors, and other presents for their 
squaws, and they departed under the promise that they 
would be good and faithful citizens of the United States. 


Doniphan's expedition. 

On the 25th Gen. Kearney with a very inadequate 
force for such an enterprise, set out from the capital 
for the distant shores of the Pacific, leaving Col. Doni- 
phan in command of all the forces in New Mexico. 
The colonel was now actively employed in pushing 
forward preparations for his contemplated descent 
upon Chihuahua. Supplies were being procured for 
the men. Every soldier endeavored to mount himself 
upon a safe and durable animal, for the march was 
known to be long and perilous, passing through desert 
tracts of country. Wagons, for the transportation of 
baggage and provisions, were speedily being repaired. 
Harness and teams were put in readiness for the 
draught. It was the colonel's intention to begin his 
great march as soon as Col. Price should arrive at 
Santa Fe with his troops, and succeed him in the com- 
mand at that place. 

The author may perhaps be pardoned for adding, 
at the close of this chapter, a few brief remarks in 
commendation of the United States' troops, which 
will show the strong moral influence as well as the 
nationality of our republican institutions. He has ob- 
served his comrades in arms, after performing the se- 
verest toils during a long and fatiguing march of nine 
hundred miles, bearing with fortitude the burden and 
heat of the day, sometimes half faint of thirst and 
hunger, subsisting the greater part of the time upon 
half rations, refuse to pluck the ears of corn that grew 
thickly and invitingly around them. This exhibits a 
degree of moral firmness and a regard for the rights 
of property which is truly characteristic of the American 
people, is worthy of the highest praise, and is doubt- 
less one of the happy results of our benign institutions. 



There was a national feeling in the army of the west. 
Every soldier felt that he was a freeman ; that he was 
a citizen of the model republic; and that he ought 
to look upon the disgrace of the American arms as 
individual dishonor. Hence their high moral sense 
and conscious superiority over the Mexican people. 
As the American soldier walked in the streets of the 
capital, and met a group of Mexican ladies and gentle- 
men going to the plaza with marketables, or in more 
gaudy attire passing up the walks to the Catholic 
churches, he paid them the same complimentary marks 
of courtesy and civility, with which he had been ac- 
customed to greet his own fairer country-women and 
men in the streets of St. Louis, Cincinnati, New York, 
or Philadelphia. This honorable feeling* was never 
once forgotten or lost sight of by the citizen soldier. 

* This remark is intended to apply to the conduct of the men 
generally. Individual instances of bad conduct may have been 



Reinforcements — Organization of the Force — The march be- 
gun — Mormon Battalion — Death of Captain Alien — Another 
Estampeda — Col, Price's arrival at Santa Fe — Col. Daugher- 
ty's regiment — -Disposition of the forces in New Mexico — Ex- 
press from California — Preparations for the Chihuahua Ex- 

In the previous chapters it has been briefly related 
how the war between the United States and Mexico 
took its origin, and in what manner the President pro- 
posed to conduct the war, invading the latter country 
at several distinct points. It has also been shown how 
the Western Expedition w T as fitted out and dispatched 
across the great solitudes which intervene between 
Fort Leavenworth and Santa Fe ; by what means the 
men were able to subsist themselves upon the plains ; 
and how, for the greater convenience, the marches were 
conducted by separate companies, squadrons, and bat- 
talions. Finally, it has been related how the New 
Mexicans surrendered the capital into the hands of the 
Americans without resistance or bloodshed. 

Lest the forces already dispatched under command 
of Gen. Kearney might not be able to accomplish the 
purposes of the expedition, or even to sustain them- 
selves against the overwhelming numbers the enemy 
could bring into the field, it was deemed advisable by 
the President to send out a strong reinforcement. — 
Sterling Price, a member of Congress from Missouri 
at the time, having resigned his membership early in 


col. price's force. 


the summer of 1846, and applied to President Polk, 
was appointed to the conduct of this new force. This 
reinforcement was to consist of one full mounted regi- 
ment, one mounted extra battalion, and one extra bat- 
talion of Mormon infantry, the whole to be filled up 
of volunteers*. 

After some delay the companies required rendez- 
voused at Fort Leavenworth, and were mustered into 
the service about the first of August. The companies 
from Boone, Benton, Carroll, Chariton, Lynn, Living- 
ston, Monroe, Randolph, St. Genevieve and St. Louis 
counties, respectively under command of Captains 
McMillan, Hollaway, Williams, Holley, Barbee, Slack, 
Giddings, H. Jackson, Horine and Dent, composed 
the 2d regiment. Notwithstanding the President had 
designated Sterling Price as a suitable man to com- 
mand the 2d regiment, the men thought he ought to 
be chosen by their free suffrages, or some other man 
in his stead. Accordingly they proceeded to hold an 
election that they might choose a commander. Ster- 
ling Price obtained the command. D. D. Mitchell 
was chosen lieutenant-colonel, and Capt. Edmondson, 
major. The appointment of R. Walker to be adju- 
tant, and Stewart, sergeant-major, Dr. May, surgeon, 
and A. Wilson, sutler, completed the organization of 
the 2d regiment. 

In the separate battalion, which was composed of 
the companies from the counties of Marion, Polk, 
Platte and Ray, respectively under command of Cap- 
tains Smith, Robinson, Morin and Hendley, Willock 
was chosen lieutenant-colonel. Thus the strength of 
Col. Price's command was about 1200 men Besides 
this cavalry force, he had a considerable number of 


doniphan's expedition. 

heavy pieces of artillery, and artillerymen to manage 
them, commanded by officers of the regular service, 
and a great number of baggage and provision wagons. 
These trains of wagons, used to transport the baggage 
and provisions of the men, generally set out in ad- 
vance of the army, because being heavily loaded, they 
could not travel as fast as the cavalry, and that being 
wanted in the army at any time it is easier for them to 
come to a halt than to make a forced march, and each 
wagon having a driver well armed, and each train of 
thirty or more wagons a captain of the teamsters, they 
did not need to be protected by any other guards 
against the Indians, but went as fast as it pleased them, 
and when attacked by these barbarians, they presently 
converted the wagons into a corral or breastwork so as 
to defend themselves from harm ; except the baggage 
wagons, which traveled with the army when they 
could keep pace along with it. With this force, thus 
furnished, Col. Price set out for Santa Fe,* marching 
by separate detachments over the plains, as Gen. Kear- 
ney and Col. Doniphan had ordered their captains to 
do before, about the middle of August. 

Also about this period, Capt. Allen of the 1st dra- 
goons, acting under instructions from the War Depart- 
ment, proceeded to the Council Bluffs, where the 
Mormons had been collecting for several months with 
the view to make a settlement, and there raised a body 
of five hundred Mormons, all volunteer infantry. This 
body of troops also rendezvoused at Fort Leaven- 

* It was the original intention of Col. Price to march his en- 
tire command to California by way of Santa Fe, if Gen. Kear- 
ney were in a condition not to need his services at the latter 



worth, and having been out-fitted, commenced its 
march, soon after the departure of Col. Price, for the 
shores of the Pacific, a distance of 1990 miles, where, 
having served to the expiration of one year, they w T ere 
to be paid, discharged, and allowed to found settle- 
ments and bring their families. They were to proceed 
first to Santa Fe, and thence to California, following 
the route of Gen. Kearney. 

This Mormon battalion consisted of five companies, 
lettered A, B, C, D, and E, respectively, under cap- 
tains Hunt, Hunter, Brown, Higgins, and Davis, com- 
manded by Lieutenant-colonel Allen ; Dykes being 
adjutant, and Glines, serjeant-major. It was attended 
by twenty-seven women, for laundresses, and was 
mustered into the service on the 16th of July. Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Allen, having delayed at the fort a short 
time after the companies began the march, to forward 
some supplies, was suddenly taken ill, and expired 
shortly afterward, on the 22d of August. 

Thus died Lieutenant-colonel Allen, of the 1st Dra- 
goons, in the midst of a career of usefulness, under 
the favoring smiles of fortune, beloved while living, 
and regretted, after death, by all who knew him, both 
among the volunteer and regular troops. The Mor- 
mons were then conducted to Santa Fe by Lieutenant 
Smith of the 1st Dragoons. 

The manner in which the advance of the Western 
Army immediately under Gen. Kearney and Col. Don- 
iphan conducted its marches, and the great success 
which attended them, has been narrated in a previous 
chapter. Therefore, as this second force traveled over 
the same route, and was from the nature of the coun- 
try necessitated to perform nearly the same daily 


Doniphan's expedition. 

marches, that it might obtain fuel, water, and forage 
(or grass, which is the only forage the plains can sup- 
ply), and also as the management which was neces- 
sary to be used for the rapid progress of the reinforc- 
ing army was similar to that which had been adopted 
by the preceding forces, and the scenes and incidents 
occurring on this campaign, as well as the features of 
the country passed over, being such as have already 
been described, it is not deemed necessary to recapit- 
ulate them. 

They were not molested at any time, or put to any 
serious inconvenience by the Indians who dwell upon 
the plains. Many horses died or failed during the 
march. Those which failed, being abandoned by 
their owners, were soon killed and devoured by the 
gangs of wolves which daily followed the army. 

These barbarous tribes of Indians seldom have the 
courage or daring to oppose the march of any consid- 
erable number of men, but attack with the greatest 
fury small parties of men who chance to fall in their 
way, and when they have captured them they never 
suffer them to escape, but uniformly torture and 
put them to death in the most cruel manner. Col. 
Price's forces feeling entirely secure against these 
hordes by reason of their numbers, placed out no 
picket guards as the other command had done, and 
some times had no sentinels about the camps at night. 
At a later period, however, the Indians infested the 
Santa Fe road with more boldness, and in several in- 
stances succeeded in killingAmericans, and capturing 
provision wagons, and large droves of mules, oxen, and 
other stock belonging to the United States' government. 

The troops composing this command, when they 



arrived at the crossing of the Arkansas, took the route 
by the Cimarron river, except two or three compan- 
ies which proceeded, by way of Fort Bent and the 
Raton Pass to Santa Fe. The Cimarron route is per- 
haps one hundred miles the shorter way, but is not 
so well supplied with water or forage as the other. 
While the army lay encamped some where on the 
Arkansas, a general estampeda occurred among the 
horses. Wildly and madly they plunged over the 
plain, near a thousand head, stung and galled by the 
lariats and iron pickets which they dragged after 
them. After great labor the majority of them were 
recovered ; the rest either went wild on the prairies, 
or were captured by the Comanches, who are excel- 
lent in horsemanship. 

From the Cimarron Springs Col. Price sent forward 
an express to Santa Fe, representing to Gen. Kearney 
that his command was without supplies, and that his 
marches must of necessity be slow, unless he could 
furnish him. This express reached Santa Fe on the 
20th of September, and provisions were forthwith dis- 
patched upon the road to meet him. Meanwhile the 
colonel advanced upon the march as vigorously as 
the condition of his men and animals would permit. 
Thompson and Campbell, contractors to supply the 
army with beef, were on the road with fourteen hun- 
dred beef-cattle, but were too far behind to be of any 
service in the present exigency. 

Col. Price, in a very feeble state of health, arrived 
at the capital in company with a few of his staff offi- 
cers on the 28th of September, three days after Gen. 
Kearney's departure for California. The different de- 
tachments and companies of his command continued 


Doniphan's expedition. 

to come in almost daily. The greater part of them, 
however, together with the Mormon battalion, ar- 
rived on the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th days of October. 
They quartered out on the ground as Col. Doniphan's 
men were doing, there being no more houses in Santa 
Fe than barely enough to shelter the inhabitants from 
the inclement weather. 

The capital was now literally alive with artillery, 
baggage wagons, commissary teams, beef-cattle and a 
promiscuous throng of American soldiers, traders, 
visitors, stragglers, trappers, amateurs, mountaineers^ 
Mexicans, Pueblo Indians, women and children num- 
bering perhaps not less than fourteen thousand souls. 
The aggregate effective force of the American Army 
in New Mexico, at this time, was about three thousand 
five hundred men. 

Col. Price's command, during its long and toilsome 
march to Santa Fe, which was completed in about 
fifty-three days in mid-summer, was attended with 
most singular good fortune ; having lost only three 
soldiers on the way, one by accident, the other two by 

About the 10th of August another requisition was 
made upon the Governor of Missouri for one thousand 
additional volunteers, to join Gen. Kearney in New 
Mexico. This new force, the 3rd regiment of Mis- 
souri volunteers, was to consist entirely of infantry, 
and was to rendezvous also at Fort Leavenworth, where 
it was to be fitted out and be ready to march close in 
rear of Col. Price's command. In an incredibly short 

* These were Blount and Willhoit. They were both interred 
at Fort Marcy. 

daugherty's regiment. 


space of time, the requisite number of troops was raised 
and company officers chosen. Forthwith they repaired 
to the fort and reported for service. Major 
Daugherty, of Clay county, was elected to the com- 
mand of this regiment, and while actively employed 
in hastening preparations for the arduous march over 
the plains, he received orders from the President re- 
quiring him to desist from the enterprise and disband 
his force. This was accordingly done. The men, 
disappointed, returned to their homes. Thus, those 
brave men who had generously volunteered to serve 
the country on foot, in a cavalry expedition, were de- 
nied a share in the toils and honors of the campaign. 

There being more troops in the capital, after the 
arrival of the recruits under the command of Col. 
Price, than were necessary to preserve order and 
tranquility in the city, Col. Doniphan disposed of 
them in this manner : — The remaining three companies 
of the 1st regiment were sent out to the grazing en- 
campment which, for better pasturage, had been 
moved from the Galisteo to the mountains or dividing 
hills between the river Pecos and the Del Norte, about 
fifty miles from Santa Fe, and twenty from San Miguel. 
On this table-land the grass was very fine and nour- 
ishing, and there was a beautiful lake of fresh water 
near the camp-ground abundantly sufficient for both 
men and horses. This glassy lake was situated 
in the edge of a glade several hundred yards wide, 
and skirted by the handsomest groves of pines and 
cedars, ever verdant; while the tall "grama" re- 
sembling a rich meadow, carpeted its margin, as well 
as covered the beautiful succession of hills and dales 
which lay spread out to view. In this truly romantic 


Doniphan's expedition. 

spot of country the animals were soon refitted for ser- 
vice. — A squadron of two companies under Maj. Ed- 
mondson was ordered to relieve Lieutenant-colonel 
Jackson at Cebolleta, and a detachment was sent to 
relieve Major Gilpin at Abiquiu ; Jackson and Gil- 
pin were severally to await at these places further or- 
ders. Also, one or two companies were sent back to 
forage or graze on the Mora, near the Santa Clara springs, 
to prevent the Mexicans and Indians driving off the 
mules and beef-cattle belonging to the army, that 
were grazing there. The remainder of the cavalry, to- 
gether with all the artillery, was retained in Santa Fe. 

Things being in this posture, on the 11th an express 
reached Santa Fe from California, by the hands of 
Fitzpatrick, the old mountaineer and pilot to Gen. 
Kearney. This express was from Commodore Stock- 
ton and Lieutenant-colonel Fremont. It met Gen. 
Kearney on his road to California, about one hundred 
and fifty miles from Santa Fe, by the hand of Lieut. 
Kit Carson, one of Lieutenant-colonel Fremont's men 
direct from Monterey. The express brought this in- 
telligence : " The Pacific Squadron, Commodore 
Stockton, has taken possession of California, and the 
American Flag is now proudly streaming above the 
walls of Monterey, the capital of the country. Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Fremont was on the Rio Sacramento 
when the squadron arrived off the coast, and was not 
present when the capital surrendered. Five men-of- 
war were anchored in the bay when the express left 
Monterey. The inhabitants submitted without a 
struggle. Lieutenant-colonel Fremont had probably 
been appointed temporary governor of California." 
Kit Carson returned to California as pilot to Gen. 


Kearney, while Fitzpatrick, his former guide, was en- 
trusted with the bearing of the dispatches to Fort 
Leavenworth, whence they were transmitted to Wash- 

A great number of provision wagons was now 
daily coming in, and filling up the streets of the city. 
The commissary and quartermaster departments were 
extremely busy in receiving and storing provisions, 
and taking care of government stock. At the head 
of these departments were Major Swords and Captain 
McKissack. There were also a great number of assis- 
tant commissaries and quartermasters,* and a tribe of 
clerks. Every exertion was now being used to pro- 
vide a good outfit for Col. Doniphan's intended expe- 
dition against Chihuahua, which was looked upon as 
being both an arduous and a hazardous enterprise. 
The battalion of Mormons, to the future conduct of 
which Capt. Cooke, of the 1st dragoons, had been 
appointed, were waiting for a new outfit for transpor- 
tation across the mountains to the Californias, Also 
Capt. Hudson, of St. Louis, having given up his com- 
mand of the Laclede Rangers to his 1st lieutenant, 
Elliott, and acting under the permission of Gen. Kear- 
ney, had raised a new company of volunteers, one 
hundred strong, from the several corps at Santa Fe, 
designed for the California service. This company, 
denominated the California Rangers,! must also be 
provided with means of transportation over the moun- 

* Lieutenants Pope Gordon and James Lea were appointed 
assistant commissary and quartermaster to the 1st regiment, both 
active, energetic men. 

f This company was dissolved by Col. Doniphan as soon as 
lie learned that California was in the hands of the Americans. 


doniphan's expedition. 

tains. Besides this pressing current of business, large 
deputations of Indians, headed by their respective 
chiefs, were constantly coming in to hold a " Big 
Talk" or " Grand Council" with Col. Doniphan, who 
as yet was looked upon as commander of all the forces 
in New Mexico, and governor of the Department. — 
Such then at this time was the posture of affairs in 
Santa Fe. 


Doniphan ordered against the Navajos — Plan of the March — 
Condition of the Troops — They take with them neither Bag- 
gage, Provision Wagons, nor Tents — Arrival at Alburquerque 
— A Squadron sent to Valverde — Death of Adjutant Butler 
— War Dance at Isleta — Express from the Merchants — Val- 

The express which reached Santa Fe on the 11th 
day of October, as already noticed, brought a commu- 
nication from Gen. Kearney to Col. Doniphan, instruct- 
ing him to delay for a time his contemplated move- 
ment upon Chihuahua, and desiring him to pro- 
ceed with his regiment forthwith into the country in- 
habited by the Navajos, a large and populous tribe 
of semi-civilized Indians, and chastise them for the 
depredations they had recently committed on the wes- 
tern frontiers of New Mexico, as also for having re- 
fused to come in to the capital, when sent for, to offer 
submission to the conqueror and acknowledge his go- 
vernment. This is a copy of the order : 

Headquarters Army of the West, } 
Camp on the Rio del Norte near La Joy a, Oct. 2, 1846. j 
I. As the chiefs of the Navajos have been invited to 
Santa Fe by the commanding general, for the purpose of 
holding a council, and making a peace between them and the 
inhabitants of New Mexico, (now forming a part and under 
the protection of the United States,) and as they have prom- 
ised to come, but have failed doing so, and instead thereof 
continue killing the people and committing depredations upon 

( 143 ) 


doniphan's expedition. 

their property, it becomes necessary to send a military ex- 
pedition into the country of these Indians, to secure a peace 
and better conduct from them in future. 

II. For the reasons set forth in the foregoing paragraph, 
Col. Doniphan, of the 1st regiment Missouri mounted vol- 
unteers, previous to complying with paragraph II. of orders 
No. 30, dated Sept. 23d, will march with his regiment into 
the Navajo country. He will cause all the prisoners, and all 
the property they hold, which may have been stolen from 
the inhabitants of the territory of New Mexico, to be given 
U p — and he will require of them such security for their fu- 
ture good conduct, as he may think ample and sufficient, by 
taking hostages or otherwise. 

III. After Col. Doniphan has fully complied with these 
instructions, he will proceed with his regiment to report to 
Brigadier-general Wool, as directed in orders No. 30. 

By order of Brigadier-general S. W. KEARNEY. 
H. S. Turner, Capt. A. A. A. Gen. 

This order was founded upon the fact that the New 
Mexicans represented to Gen. Kearney as he passed 
near Soccorro on his route to California, " that a party 
of Navajo Indians had recently crossed the mountains 
and made a sudden irruption into the settlements, 
(which Gen. Kearney had promised to protect,) killing 
seven or eight men, taking as many more women and 
children captives, and driving off 10,000 head of 
sheep, cattle and mules. 5 ' 

As the winter was now fast approaching, and the 
mountains would soon be impassable by reason of the 
great quantity of snow which falls in that elevated 
region early in the season, and also on account of the 
great difficulty of procuring forage for horses and 
mules at such a time, Col. Doniphan determined to 
execute the order with all possible expedition. Ac- 



cordingly, having dispatched directions to Maj. Gil- 
pin at Abiquiu, and Lieutenant-colonel Jackson at Ce- 
bolleta, thence to penetrate into the heart of the Na- 
vajo district by different routes through the mountains, 
chastising the Navajos wherever they appeared hos- 
tile, and taking their chiefs as hostages for their future 
good behavior wherever they w T ere disposed to be 
peaceable, at last forming a junction of their forces at 
a noted place called the Ojo Oso or Bear Spring, he 
himself set out, taking with him the three companies 
he had called in from the Grazing Encampment near 
San Miguel, intending to take a medium course through 
the hills and sierras, having Gilpin on his right and 
Jackson on his left, and thus to unite with them at 
the Bear Spring; Col. Price being left in command of 
the entire force at Santa Fe and the grazing grounds. 

The three companies from the grazing grounds near 
San Miguel, having collected their stock together, 
commenced the march on the 26th of October, pro- 
ceeding by way of Galisteo and Del Gardo to Santo 
Domingo, where Col. Doniphan and staff, with his 
baggage and provision wagons, w T ere in wait for them. 
Four months' pay was now due the soldiers, and many 
of them would soon be destitute of comfortable cloth- 
ing, yet Col. Doniphan had neither a military chest, 
nor a paymaster, nor a dollar of government funds to 
silence the just complaints, or satisfy the reasonable 
wants, of his men. They looked upon it as a hard- 
ship, and with reason, that they were ordered against 
the Indians, without pay, and with little else than their 
summer clothing to protect them from the cold, in a 
country where they would be compelled to climb over 
the tallest mountains, and often encamp in the midst of 

146 doniphan's expedition. 

snow, and ice, and rocks, and where it was impossible 
to procure either wood for fire, water to drink, or for- 
age for horses and mules. 

Now, besides these difficulties, the nature of the 
country is such, that it is impracticable for artillery, 
baggage or provision wagons, or even for the lightest 
carriages ; so steep and abrupt are the rocks, hills, 
and mountains. Only pack mules and sumpter horses 
can be used with advantage. For this reason Major 
Gilpin sent all his baggage wagons back from Abiquiu 
into the Del Norte valley ; Lieutenant-colonel Jack- 
son did the same thing from Cebolleta ; and Colonel 
Doniphan the same. They also threw away their 
tents, that being light-armed and unembarrassed, they 
might make their marches with greater expedition 
amongst the rocks, ravines and steeps of the moun- 
tains. Moreover, the soldiers thought, as they had 
been previously ordered against Chihuahua, that some 
portion of the troops which were idle at Santa Fe, 
might have been sent on this service ; that after hav- 
ing spent three or four months in pursuit of the In- 
dians amongst the gorges, and chasms, and fastnesses 
of the Cordilleras, they would then be marched off 
on the Chihuahua expedition without being allowed 
one day to recuperate their wasted energies, or to rest 
their jaded animals ; and that so much delay would 
give Gen. Wool time to anticipate them in his move- 
ment upon Chihuahua, thereby robbing them of their 
share of the honor ; or, if it did not, that it would 
give the Mexicans ample time to learn of our inten- 
tions, and make preparations to defend themselves, 
and the city of Chihuahua to the best advantage, ren- 
dering it hazardous in the extreme for so small a force 

Doniphan's march. 

to venture thither as Col. Doniphan had at his com- 
mand. This latter surmise proved true. 

The detachment now, with Col. Doniphan, march- 
ed on the 30th of October down the country, keeping 
the river Del Norte on the right, and the mountains 
and craggy hills on the left; and arriving about sun- 
set at the village Sandia, the men staid there during 
the night, encamping on the ground without much 
system, but wherever each soldier preferred to lie; for 
now there was no danger, and the men were tired of 
marchings, and watchings, and mounting guard. That 
night much rain fell, and the men endured it all ; for 
by this time, few of them had any tents, and some of 
those who had, did not take pains to pitch them. It 
was here that a Mexican came into camp, and re- 
ported "that Gen. Wool had taken possession of Chi- 
huahua with 6,000 men, and much heavy artillery, 
and that the Mexicans made but a feeble resistance." 
This did not prove true. 

The next day the march was continued down the 
river; the men encamping on a "brazo," during the 
night. There was now plenty of provisions in the 
camp for the soldiers; but wood was so scarce that it 
was a difficult task for them to prepare any thing to 
eat at supper. Some of them collected together a 
few little bunches of dry brush, w T hile others as they 
could, picked up withered grass and weeds, and dry 
ordure from the cattle, and with these made a fire and 
broiled their meat and boiled their coffee. About 
this time an election was ordered in the companies, 
that they might each make choice of an additional 
second lieutenant, with the same rank and pay of the 
other lieutenants ; so that there were now, four com- 


doniphan's expedition. 

missioned officers to each company ; one captain, and 
three lieutenants. This order was made agreeably to 
an arrangement of the War Department, by which 
companies of one hundred men, or more, were en- 
titled to four commissioned officers. 

Early the next day the detachment arrived at the 
town of Alburquerque, where such of the men as were 
able, and desired it, purchased wine, and beer, and 
mezcal, which is made of the maguey, and of which 
the Mexicans are very fond ; also bread, fresh meat, 
eggs and poultry. Lieutenant Noble, with about thirty 
of the 1st dragoons, was at this place, recruiting the 
condition of his men and animals ; some of the former 
being sick. Here the colonel crossed the river, his 
men following, and after them the provision and bag- 
gage trains. The river here is broad and shallow, 
not being above the hubs of the wagons ; the bottom 
is so sandy, however, that if a wagon stops but a few 
minutes in the current, it will presently be buried 
in the water and sand. On this account, many of the 
teams coming to a halt that they might drink of the 
cold water, some of the wagons had to be drawn out 
by hand, the men wading into the water, rolling at the 
wheels and pulling by ropes attached to the standards. 
This heavy work completed, the march was resumed, 
continuing down on the west bank of the river. That 
night the men encamped in a level bottom where there 
was a moderate supply of forage, but no kind of fuel. 
Some of the men collected tufts of ^ry grass and 
weeds together, and setting fire to them, held their 
meat in the blaze until it was partially roasted. Thus 
they prepared their suppers. 

It was here that the colonel received information 

walton's detachment. 


from the caravan or mercL nt trains, which had ad- 
vanced as far down the valle. v of the Del Norte as the 
ruins of Valverde, for the purpose of grazing their 
mules and other animals to better advantage, that they 
apprehended an attack from the Mexicans almost 
daily, who were said to be advancing, seven hundred 
strong, with the view of plundering the merchant 
wagons. In this perplexity, Col. Doniphan, that he 
might accomplish all his purposes, and fail in none, 
dispatched the three companies which he had with 
him, to protect the traders and their merchandize. Of 
this squadron Capt. Walton had the command, rank- 
ing the other two captains, Moss and Rodgers. Capt. 
Burgwin (having been sent back by Gen. Kearney 
with about two hundred men) being previously ap- 
prised of the critical situation of the merchants, had 
already gone to afford them succor. Thus in a short 
time there were five hundred mounted men, besides 
three hundred merchants and teamsters at Valverde, 
ready to oppose any hostile movement the enemy 
might choose to make. The merchants had also cor- 
raled their wagons in such a manner as to receive 
troops within and afford them shelter against an ene- 
my, so that the besieged could fight with as much se- 
curity as though they were in a fortress. 

As to Col. Doniphan, he took his staff (that part of 
it which happened to be with him), and attended by 
three or four other men, proceeded with great haste 
to Cuvarro, not far from the river Puerco, making great 
marches and encamping on the ground wherever night- 
fall chanced to overtake him. This was on the 2d 
day of November. 

At Cuvarro the colonel fell in with a few of Lieu- 

150 doniphan's expedition. 

tenant-colonel Jacksoa's men, most of whom, being 
sick, were left behind, attended by their friends, that 
they might recover, and not be left without aid in that | 
wild country. Of those who were sick a great num- 
ber died, their diseases being such that the physicians 
could not relieve them. These diseases were typhoid 
fever, rheumatism, blumy, and other complaints pro- j 
duced by intense cold and great exposure. The pa- 
tients became entirely helpless, and frequently lost the 
use of their legs. So they died. Others of them 
surviving for a time, were conveyed back to Soccorro 
and Alburquerque, where some of these also died, and 
others recovered. 

It was at Cuvarro that Adjutant G. W. Butler, of 
Col. Doniphan's staff, a brave and gallant man, belo- 
ved by all the regiment, was seized with a violent dis- 
temper, induced by cold, and died, much lamented, 
on the 26th of November. He was buried, (and also 
the rest of the dead, for others died near the same 
time,) with as much honor as could be shown to brave 
and gallant men in that destitute country ; for it was 
not possible to procure coffins for the dead as in the 
United States, there being no timber there. Their 
bodies were wrapt in blankets, deposited in the grave, 
the vault being covered by broad rocks to prevent the 
wolves disturbing the dead, and then a certain number 
of rounds being fired over the grave, and the last one 
into it, the earth was heaved in and the "last resting 
place" completed in the usual manner. Thus w r ere 
interred those who died in the service of their country. 

Col. Doniphan advanced vigorously into the moun- 
tains, as we shall presently notice, attended by only a 
few men. 



At the same time Col. Doniphan departed to the 
Navajo district, the detachment under command of 
Capt. Walton, with the baggage train, began the march 
towards Valverde ; on the 2d day of November, pass- 
ing through many ranchos on the river, and also the 
villages, Pajarrito and Padillas, and the Pueblo of Is- 
leta, near which the soldiers encamped that night. — 
The inhabitants of these places did not molest our 
men, nor manifest any hostility towards them, but sold 
them such things to 'eat as they could spare, and what- 
ever commodities the soldiers desired to purchase. 
Now during the night there were a great shouting and 
yelling, and the firing of guns and ringing of bells, 
and also singing and dancing among the Pueblos of 
Isleta. Certain of the soldiers, thinking perhaps an 
attack was meditated by these people on our camp 
during the night, volunteered to go and learn what 
might be the occasion of so much noise and tumult. 
When they arrived there, they beheld various lights 
about the streets and squares, and groups of men and 
maidens, fantastically dressed and tattooed, dancing 
and singing with great merriment. On approaching a 
little nearer, they beheld on the tops of three tall lances 
or javelins, the scalps of three Navajo warriors, the 
long, straight, black hair sweeping in the wind. The 
Pueblos were celebrating a war dance. The men, 
inquiring how these scalps were obtained, received 
this account from the Pueblos : 

66 About three days ago a party of Navajos, between 
whom and us there are continual wars, descended 
from the mountains and seized one of our women, five 
of our children, and a great number of sheep and cat- 
tle, and mules, and having killed eight Mexicans and 

152 doniphan 5 s expedition. 

Pueblos, went off with their booty. These facts being 
reported to Capt. Burgwin, while on his way to Val- 
verde, Lieut. Grier with about sixty men was detached 
to go in pursuit of this marauding party of Navajos, 
themselves numbering seventy. Lieutenant Grier 
having pursued them about two days, (most of his 
men however having given over the pursuit on ac- 
count of their horses failing,) came up with them in a 
canon of the mountains, charged upon them, killing 
and scalping three of them, rescuing the captives, and 
recovering the stock." Lieut, Grier had one of his 
men slightly wounded, and an arrow lodged in his 
saddle near his thigh. However, he made good his 
retreat. It was thus the Pueblos of Isleta obtained 
the trophies which they were proudly displaying at 
the war-dance. This detachment now r moving slowly 
down the river, completed in five day's march about 
thirty five miles, passing through the villages Sineca, * 
Luna£, Chavez, and Jarrales. Encamping near the latter 
place, the inhabitants furnished wood for the soldiers 
and various articles of food, such as chickens, bread, 
cheese, molasses, melons, meal and flour, at a mode- 
rate price. That night some of the men witnessed the 
nuptial ceremonies of the Alcalde's daughter. She 
was married to a wealthy " ranchero " by the "cura" 
of the place. 

From thence the march was continued through Be- 
len and Sabina| to the river Puerco, making only 
about twenty-five miles in three days. Here the de- 
tachment met Capt. Burgwin's command returning to 
Albuyquerque, there being no danger of an attack on 
the merchant wagons. As it was now cold and dis- 
agreeable, the soldiers staid in camp three days. The 



next day they marched twelve miles over deep sand- 
drifts and dry rocky creeks, and stopped for the night 
in a cottonwood grove, a pleasant retreat, where they 
staid three more days. From this place, on the 21st 
of November, Captain Rogers' company returned to 
La Joya, on the east side of the river, to bury Lieut. 
Snell, one of their officers, who had died the previous 
day. This officer was much esteemed by his men. 
Capt. Rodgers was also, at the same place, disabled by 
the kick of a horse. So the company was now com- 
manded by Lieut. Harrison. From thence in one 
day's march they passed Soccorro and Huertaz, mak- 
ing about twenty-two miles. These are the last Mex- 
ican settlements on the west bank of the river until 
you come to El Paso Del Norte. The next day (23d) 
they marched twelve miles, and encamped in a cotton- 
wood forest, where there w r as grass, wood, and water, 
intending to spend one or two days at that place. 

About tattoo the soldiers were suddenly aroused 
from their repose by the appearance in camp of a 
friendly Mexican, who had been dispatched thither 
by the merchants, with a letter addressed to the 
" commandante," requesting him to march with all 
possible haste to their relief ; that they expected very 
soon to be attacked by a strong Mexican force. Two 
Americans came into camp the next morning, and 
confirmed what the Mexican had said ; — therefore the 
volunteers began to clean up their guns, adjust their 
flints, and see that their cartridge boxes were well 
supplied ; for they now believed that an action would 
soon take place. A speedy march of fifteen miles was 
completed in less than half the day, which brought 
them to the Green valley, where the caravans had cor- 


doniphan's expedition. 

railed for defence. They encamped in a large forest 
of Cottonwood trees, on the west bank of the river, near 
the ruins of Valverde. The pasturage was excellent 
in the adjacent mountains. The exigency for succor, 
however, did not prove as great as was represented. 

This being a favorable place from whence to afford 
protection to the caravan of traders, and also a con- 
venient spot to procure pasturage for the animals, as 
well as a good position to shelter the men from the 
wind and violent snow storms, it was thought fit to 
make it a permanent encampment. It was also con- 
venient to the water. Therefore this place became 
the headquarters of the commissary and quartermaster 
departments of the regiment, and the point from w T hich 
Col. Doniphan, when he should collect his scattered 
forces together from the Navajo country, was to in- 
vade the state of Chihuahua. This was the 24th of 

Lest it should be supposed that the three hun- 
dred men, who were detailed as a wagon guard to 
watch over, and protect the interest of the merchant 
caravan, were less willing soldiers, or less desirous of 
serving the country, than those who went against the 
Navajos, let us consider the nature of the service 
which they were required to perform. There is no 
one so ignorant that he does not know it is more agree- 
able to be actively employed in marching, than con- 
fined in camps and placed on continual guards and 
watchings ; just as the bears which run wild in the 
mountains enjoy more liberty than those which are 
kept in chains or in cages. Besides, this section of 
the army suffered much from the cold, being stationed 
in the open valley on an exposed spot of earth, poorly 



supplied with tents, almost destitute of comfortable 
clothing, and stinted in provisions. These were brave 
men and good soldiers. They were daily threatened 
by attacks from the Apaches on the east and west, and 
by the Mexicans on the south. Much vigilance was 
therefore necessary. 

The traders had formed a corral for defence upon 
the intelligence obtained through two spies whom they 
had caught on their w r ay from El Paso to Santa Fe, 
bearing communications to the principal men in the 
northern settlements. They represented " that seven 
hundred Mexicans were on their way from El Paso 
with the view 7 to attack and rob the merchants, not 
knowing they were protected by the military." Two 
other Mexican spies or couriers were soon after caught 
by them, having in their possession a great many let- 
ters and other communications from the priests and 
leading characters of New Mexico, directed to the 
authorities of Chihuahua and Mexico, excusing them- 
selves for permitting New Mexico to fall under the 
power of the a Northern Yankees and Texans" and 
accusing Col. Armijo of the most arrant cowardice. 

On the morning of the 27th the old Mexican shep- 
herd who had been employed to take charge of the 
flock of sheep belonging to the detachment, was miss- 
ing. None knew whither he had gone. After fur- 
ther inquiry, it was discovered that seventeen govern- 
ment mules were also missing. It was now plain how 
matters stood. He had driven them ofF the previous 
night and appropriated them to his own " use and ben- 
efit." Not long after it was ascertained that eight 
hundred and seventy-three head of sheep, the only 
dependence the detachment had for subsistence, had 


Doniphan's expedition. 

also been driven off, but in a different direction and 
by very different authors. Two men, James Stewart 
and Robert Speares, were detailed to follow the trail 
of the sheep, and discover the direction in which they 
had been driven. These two young men, carelessly 
went out without their arms or any means of defence, 
not expecting to go far before returning to camp. — 
Striking the trail, however, they pursued on with the 
view to drive the sheep back to camp at once. Pro- 
ceeding about six miles towards the mountains west- 
ward they came up w T ith the flock. Hereupon they 
were instantly attacked by a small party of renegade 
Navajos, and cruelly put to death. One of them was 
pierced oy thirteen arrows and the other by nine ; after 
which their heads were mashed and their bodies bruised 
with rocks in a most shocking manner. As these men 
did not return, it was not known by their companions 
in camp what had become of them. At length they 
were searched for, when their dead bodies were found, 
brought into camp, and decently buried. A detail of 
thirty-eight men, commanded by Lieut. Sublette, was 
sent in pursuit of the murderers. The pursuit having 
been prosecuted vigorously for sixty or seventy miles 
into the rocky recesses of the Sierra de los Mimbres, 
the animals beginning to fail and the number of the 
party thereby decreasing, and no water having been 
found by the way, the men w r ere compelled to return 
without recovering the stock or chastising the authors 
of the bloody deed. In the deep valleys of this rug- 
ged range of mountains are extensive forests of pines, 
cedars and live-oaks. 

When there was nothing important in camp to en- 
gage the attention of the soldiers, and the day was 



pleasant, they spent their time in contests of wrestling, 
running and jumping ; also in jokes, songs and speak- 
ing ; or else in smoking, lounging, sleeping, card- 
playing or reading, as the humor might prompt them. 
Strict guards were, however, kept about the camp day 
and night, and also a detail was daily made to drive 
the stock out into the mountains for the purpose of 
grazing them. These stock guards were always well 
armed, to prevent attacks by the Apaches and Navajos, 
who watch every opportunity of seizing upon what- 
ever booty may chance to be in their power. The 
traders, who had a great number of mules and oxen, 
used the same method of subsisting them, sending a 
part of their own men out each day as a stock guard. 

About this time an English officer, or rather embas- 
sador, made his appearance in the camp of the mer- 
chants, bringing proposals to them from the governor 
of Chihuahua to this effect : " That if they would 
first dismiss from their employ all their American 
teamsters, and employ in their stead, Mexicans, and 
then, upon their arrival at El Paso, where the customs 
for the State of Chihuahua are received, pay a duty 
of thirteen cents per pound on their importations, and 
such an internal or consumption tariff as should be 
fixed by law, they would be permitted to come into 
the city of Chihuahua and allowed the advantages of 
that market, free from molestation." So impatient to 
sell were some of the merchants who had embarked 
largely in the trade, and who were extremely anxious 
to have the advantage of the first market, that they 
were disposed to entertain these overtures with some 
degree of favor. Others, better acquainted with the 
Mexican character looked upon it as a ruse or piece 


Doniphan's expedition. 

of management to get the merchants into their power, 
and then they could seize and confiscate their goods 
at pleasure. The spoils could easily be divided after- 
wards. This indeed was their design. 

Now while the great majority of the traders were 
Americans, there were also among them some English 
and Mexican merchants who could embrace the gov- 
ernor's terms with safety. These were anxious to reap 
the first fruits of the Chihuahua market. They there- 
fore manifested symptoms of restlessness, and evinced 
a disposition and even a determination to go on in ad- 
vance of the army which had guarded them thus far 
from the depredations of the Indians. This move- 
ment could not be tolerated. Lieut. Ogden with 
twenty-four men, (which number was afterwards in- 
creased to forty-two,) was dispatched to Fray Chris- 
tobal, at the upper end of the great Jornada del Mu- 
erto, with instructions from Capt. Walton, the com- 
manding officer, to permit no portion of the caravan 
to pass that point until Col. Doniphan should return 
from the Navajo country. This order was promptly 
put into execution by the lieutenant, notwithstanding 
the efforts of the English and Mexican merchants to 
elude his vigilance. 

On the evening of the 5th, two soldiers, inmates of 
the same tent, their names J. D. Lard and B. W. 
Marsh, entered into a quarrel as they stood about their 
camp fires. At length the parties becoming some- 
what excited, and mutually dealing upon each other 
an assortment of abusive epithets, the latter drew out 
his pistol and shot the former through the breast. Mr. 
Lard, after several days, was removed to Soccorro, 
where he survived but a short time. 



This detachment, while it remained at the Valverde 
camp-grounds, lost seventeen mules, eight hundred and 
seventy-three sheep, a great number of horses and 
cattle, and six brave men, three of whom died of cold 
and through distress of their situation, and three in 
the manner above related. The various detachments 
which had been in the country of the Navajos arrived 
in camp at Valverde about the 12th of December, 


Colonel Jackson's Detachment — Don Chavez, — Another War 
Dance — Cebolleta— Jackson's Mission — Capt. Reid's Expe- 
dition-— Navajo Dance — Narbona — Capt. Reid's Letter — Re- 
turn of the Party — Habits of the Navajos — Their Wealth — 
Horses stolen by the Navajos — Their recovery. 

Lieutenant-colonel Jackson, with a detachment 
of three companies, under command of Capts. Reid, 
Parsons and Hughes,* as already stated, left Santa Fe 
on the 18th of September, and proceeded to Cebolle- 
ta, on the river Puerco, to keep the Indians in subor- 
dination in that part of the State, and there to await 
further orders. Their first march was from Santa Fe 
to Del Gardo, more than twenty miles, where they re- 
mained in camp two days, during which time they re- 
paired their wagons, harness, saddle trappings, tents, 
clothes, collected their stock together, packed up their 
baggage, and did whatever else seemed to demand 

From thence, on the next day, all things being made 
ready; and the soldiers having taken their breakfast, 
they commenced the march, and during this and four 
other days completed near one hundred miles, arriving 
at the Laguna fork of the river Puerco. This march 
led through Algodones, Bernalillo, Sandia, Alburquer- 
que, where, crossing the river, it was continued through 
Pajarrito and other villages, thence striking off wes- 

# Hughes was chosen captain after the detachment arrived at 
Cebolleta, Lieut. De Courcy being in command for the present. 



terly to the Puerco. On the morning of the 27th, 
about fifty Pueblo Indians, with their arms in their 
hands, visited the camp, and informed Lieutenant- 
colonel Jackson that all the Pueblos from San Domin- 
go to Isleta, many hundred in number, were on their 
way to Cebolleta to make w T ar upon the Navajos in 
conjunction with him, insisting that Gen. Kearney had 
granted them permission to retake their stolen animals, 
and recover their people from captivity, great numbers 
of whom were in the hands of the Navajos. But as 
Col. Jackson was rather on a mission of peace than 
war, he accordingly ordered the Pueblos to return 
peaceably to their homes until their services should 
be required. To this they reluctantly consented. 

On the hills and spurs of the mountains near the 
camp, were large quantities of petrified timber. In 
some places entire trunks of trees, the remains of an 
extinct forest, were discovered, intermixed with the 
debris on the steep declivities and in the recesses of 
the craggy mountains. While at this camp, Don Cha- 
vez, a wealthy proprietor of the Laguna Pueblo, well 
disposed towards the Americans, came and made an 
offer of all his possessions, such as sheep, goats, cattle, 
and other stock, to the commander, that his men might 
not be in want of provisions. The commander, how- 
ever, accepted only so much of this generous tender 
as was sufficient to relieve his present necessities. — 
Being requested, Don Chavez promised to use his en- 
deavors to induce Sandoval, a chief of one branch or 
canton of the Navajo tribe, to bring his warriors into 
Cebolleta, and there conclude a treaty of friendship 
with the Americans. In this he partially succeeded. 

After a short march on the 28th, this detachment 


doniphan's expedition. 

encamped before Laguna, a rich Pueblo, containing 
2,000 inhabitants. Here the men procured such pro- 
visions as they were most in need of; the inhabitants 
supplying a market wherein they might purchase. Pigs, 
chickens, bread, cheese, molasses, and other things, 
were brought to them. At this place the men witness- 
ed another grand war dance around the scalps of four 
Navajo warriors, reared upon four lances, as at Isleta. 
It appeared that a party of Navajos, about the 24th, 
had made a sudden incursion from the mountains, 
plundering some of the houses in the suburbs of La- 
guna, and driving off large flocks of sheep from the 
neighboring plains and valleys. The Pueblos collected 
together and pursued them ; finally overtaking them, 
killing four of the party, and recovering a portion of 
the stock. This feast and war dance, which continued 
without intermission for fifteen hours, were meant to 
celebrate the achievement. 

The next day the march was continued up the river, 
near the margin of which the soldiers encamped and 
spent the night. Here an amiable young man, by 
name Gwyn, died and was buried. On the 30th the 
detachment marched over and pitched camp near to 
Cebolleta. This place became the headquarters of 
the detachment, whence various smaller parties of 
men were sent out into the hill-country and mountains, 
to put an end to the unjust exactions and contribu- 
tions, (such as loss of life and property,) which the 
Navajos were perpetually levying upon the frontier 
Mexican and Pueblo villages. The difficult nature of 
this enterprise, to the conduct of which Lieut, col. 
Jackson was appointed, will more plainly appear when 
it is considered that his mission was of a two-fold 

jackson's mission. 


character. He was first instructed by Gen. Kearney 
to negociate a triple league of peace between three 
powers, the Navajos, Mexicans and Pueblos who 
dwell in New Mexico, and the Americans. The 
novel spectacle is here presented of the Navajo nation 
being required, first, to treat with the New Mexicans 
and Pueblos, their perpetual and implacable enemies; 
to bind themselves by articles of agreement to abstain 
from war; to bury their mutual hatred tow T ards each 
other, and become friends for the future ; and second, 
to treat with the Americans, of whom, perhaps, they 
had never before heard, and of whom they knew noth- 
ing save that they were the conquerors of the New 
Mexicans, (for what causes they could not conceive) 
and might soon be their own conquerors, as they were 
now on the confines of the Navajo country, proposing 
terms of treaty with arms in their hands. The Nava- 
jos were willing to treat the Americans with friend- 
ship, and even to negociate a permanent peace with 
them ; but they were unable to comprehend the pro- 
priety and policy, of entering into a league by which 
they would be compelled to surrender up the captives 
and property, which they had taken from the New 
Mexicans and Pueblos by valor in various wars, nor 
could they understand what right the Americans, 
" armed ministers of peace," had to impose upon them 
such conditions. Neither were they able to conceive 
how it was that the New Mexicans, since they were 
conquered, had been advanced to the condition of 
American citizens, so that an injury done to those 
people, should now be resented by the Americans, as 
though it w r ere done them. 

And secondly, if he could not effect these amicable 


Doniphan's expedition. 

arrangements with the Navajos, he was instructed to 
prosecute against them a hostile campaign. Hence, 
all the arts of diplomacy as well as those of war, were 
required to settle these questions involving the inter- 
ests of three separate powers. 

It w T as from this place that Sandoval, a noted chief 
of one of the Navajo cantons, who had a friendly 
intercourse with the New Mexicans on the frontier, 
was dispatched by Lieutenant-colonel Jackson, to see 
the principal men of his tribe, and ascertain if they were 
of a disposition to make an amicable arrangement of 
existing differences. Sandoval, after an absence of 
about two weeks, returned and reported "that he 
had seen all the head men of his nation, and that they 
were chiefly disposed for peace ; but that they were 
unwilling to trust themselves among the New Mexi- 
cans, unless they should be furnished with an escort 
of "white men" w r hose protection would ensure their 
safety. And further, that before coming into the 
American camp, they wished to see some of the w 7 hite 
men among them, that they might talk with them, and 
learn what they desired." Sandoval further reported 
"that the principal habitations or rather haunts of the 
Navajos w T ere two hundred miles west from Cebolleta, 
in the neighborhood of the great Tcheusca mountain, 
the grand dividing ridge between the Atlantic and Pa- 
cific waters, and upon the borders of 'the noted La- 
guna Colorado or Red Lake. This beautiful, roman- 
tic sheet of water, is near the western base of the 
Tcheusca ridge of the Cordilleras. It is fed by springs 
issuing from the base of the great mountain. In a 
lovely recess of this great mountain, and in sight of 
the fairy lake, is a spacious, semicircular amphithea- 



tre, scupltured by the hand of nature in the side of 
the solid masses of rock. It faces the south-westward. 
At each corner of this crescent temple of nature, and 
isolated from the main mountain, stands a mighty, 
colossal column of red sandstone, horizontally striped 
with violet and blue veins, towering to the height of 
three hundred feet. They are more than thirty feet 
in circumference, and as regular and smooth as if they 
had been polished by the chisel of some master 

Upon the representation of Sandoval, Capt. Reid 
applied to Lieutenant-colonel Jackson to permit him, 
with a small body of troops, to make an excursion into 
the country, and learn more certainly whether theNa- 
vajos were disposed for peace or war. In order to 
allay their suspicions and inspire them with confidence 
in the good intentions of the Americans, he thought it 
best to take only a few men. Accordingly, about the 
20th of October, Capt. Reid with thirty men, who 
gallantly volunteered their services (ten from each of 
the companies present,) accompanied and aided by 
lieutenants DeCourcy and Wells, set out upon this haz- 
ardous enterprise, taking with him three mules packed 
with provisions, this being all that the scarcity of the 
camp would allow at that time, expecting to be gone 
about fifteen days. The New Mexicans were amazed 
at the temerity of Capt. Reid's proceeding. To enter 
the country of this powerful and warlike nation, which 
had for a series of years robbed and plundered their 
country with impunity, with less than an army, was 
considered by them as certain destruction. Sandoval, 
whose geographical knowledge of the country was ex- 
tensive and minute, was taken as a guide ; for no 

166 Doniphan's expedition. 

other could be procured. Some suspected that \ 
would lead the party into an ambuscade, the more £i 
fectually to ingratiate himself into favor with his peo- 
ple. But he proved faithful. Besides, the New 
Mexicans have but a very limited knowledge of that 
mountain country, never departing far from their set- 
tlements, through fear of the Indians. Nor would a 
Mexican, though his knowledge of the country were 
ever so accurate, feel himself safe to accompany so 
small a number of men on so hazardous an enterprise. 
This party, in its march, surmounted difficulties of 
the most appalling nature. It passed over craggy 
mountains of stupendous height, winding its way up 
the steep and rugged acclivities, each man leading 
his horse among the slabs and fragments of 
great rocks which lay in confused masses along the 
sides of the mountains, having crumbled from some 
summit still above, obstructing the pass- way. — Preci- 
pices and yawning chasms, fearful to behold, often 
left but a narrow passage, where a blunder either to the 
right or left would precipitate horse and man hundreds 
of feet below, amongst the jagged and pointed rocks. 
Indeed this party ascended and descended mountains, 
where, at first view, every attempt would seem fruit- 
less and vain, and where the giddy heights and tow- 
ering masses of granite seem to bid defiance to the 
puny efforts of man. Until success showed what res- 
olution could accomplish, these things were pronoun- 
ced utterly impossible. But the energy of the Anglo- 
Saxon knows no bound. 

The ease with which these few hardy and adventu- 
rous men appeared to obviate the difficulties, and sur- 
mount the obstacles which impeded their progress, 

sandoval's people. 


and which seemed, until assayed, incredible of per- 
formance, afforded convincing argument that, in the 
affairs of men, to resolve is to conquer ; and that 
men, at least Americans, can accomplish whatever is 
within the scope of possibility. Having traveled five 
days w r ith little or no intermission, through the gorges 
and fissures of the mountains, and over hills inter- 
sected by numerous ravines, w T ith steep and almost 
impassable banks, they pitched camp near a mode- 
rate supply of wood, water and grass, in a narrow vale 
formed by projecting spurs of dark basalt and pudding 
stone, terminating in a succession of rocky ridges. 
Here they determined to remain a short time, that they 
might obtain a little rest and refreshment. Here also 
they met a few of Sandoval's people, who upon be- 
ing assured that the Americans meant them no harm, 
returned with confidence to their several homes near 
camp. From thence having proceeded a short dis- 
tance, they met with an advance party of about forty 
Navajo warriors, having with them a few women ; an 
infallible sign of friendly intention. At first they 
were afraid. Hereupon Capt. Reid, leaving his men 
in the valley, and taking w T ith him Sandoval, his in- 
terpreter and guide, rode to the top of the hill upon 
which they stood, stopped, and saluted them in a kind 
manner. After a few friendly signs and some conver- 
sation, Sandoval being interpreter, gaining confidence 
they approached the captain, rode down w T ith him to 
the place where the men were pitching camp, and 
passed the night together, the utmost confidence seem- 
ing mutually to prevail. Presents were interchanged 
and conversation was commenced as they sat around 
their camp-fires. The night passed off most amicably. 


Doniphan's expedition. 

The next morning, at the instance of the Indians 
the party moved on again, having obtained from them 
this information: u That there was to be a grand col- 
lection of the young men and women of the Navajo 
tribe at a place thirty miles further into the country, 
where some event was to be celebrated by much feast- 
ing and dancing." They expressed much solicitude 
that the captain and his men should be their guests 
on that occasion, adding, "that most of their people 
had never seen a white man; but, having heard much 
of the power and wisdom of the Americans, and of 
the progress of the army in New Mexico, were very 
anxious to see and entertain them." This proposal 
according with the views of the captain and his brave 
comrades, whose object was to see as many of the 
tribes as possible, that whatever impression they 
made might be general, they agreed to attend. — 
They set out. 

When they arrived at the place designated, they 
found no less than five hundred men and women al- 
ready congregated. Whether these Indians meant to 
deceive and lead these few men into an ambuscade, 
and thereby treacherously entrap and put them to death, 
was uncertain. However, they resolved to proceed 
and use the utmost vigilance, and if such an attempt 
should be made, also to use their arms to the best 
advantage. Seeing which, the Indians received them 
with the greatest professions of friendship, and kindly 
made them presents of some excellent sheep, and other 
meats, which were very acceptable, as the captain 
was now destitute. They pitched camp, which was 
no sooner done than it was surrounded and filled by 
Indians eagerly gratifying their curiosity. The " white 



men" were amongst them. To have kept these 
" sons of the forest" at a distance by guards, would 
have appeared but safe and prudent, yet it would 
have thwarted the purpose of the visit, which was to 
secure their friendship. To have showed any thing 
like suspicion, would have been insulting to their 
pride and wounding to their feelings. It was there- 
fore, perhaps, safer to risk the chances of treachery, 
than to use caution which would serve but to provoke. 
The feasting and dancing continued through the night, 
during which the captain and his men, at intervals, 
mixing in the crowd, participated in the festivities 
and amusements of the occasion, to the infinite satisfac- 
tion of their rude but hospitable entertainers. The 
scene was truly romantic. Contemplate five hundred 
dancers in the hollow recesses of the mountains, 
with the music of shells and timbrels, giving way to 
the most extravagant joy, and a band of thirty Ameri- 
cans, armed cap-a-pie with martial accoutrements, 
mingling in the throng ! This was the 27th day of 

The next morning, the captain proposed a "grand 
talk," but was told by the Indians, " that none of the head 
chiefs or men of counsel were present ; that there were 
no Navajos there;" (using the Mexican phrase, "pocos, 
pocos" signifying very few,) but at the same time 
intimating, that one day's march further into the 
country they would see muchos (very many) and 
amongst them the old men of the nation who, they 
said, had great knowledge and great experience. 

Though this party was small, far from succor, scant 
of provisions, and in a country without supplies, ex- 
cept such as the Indians possessed, it was nevertheless 


doniphan's expedition. 

voted to go on and accomplish the original objects of 
the excursion. The captain suggested the condition 
of his commissary stores to his red friends, who as- 
sured him that there were numerous flocks of goats, 
sheep and cattle further in the mountains ; and that, 
if he chose to accompany them, he should be abun- 
dantly supplied. They started. 

A march of thirty miles over the great dividing 
ridge of the Cordilleras, brought them to the waters 
of the Pacific, and into the very heart of the country 
occupied by the Navajos, the most powerful and civil- 
ized tribe in the west. This day's march led them 
through fissures, chasms and canons in the mountains, 
whose tops were capped with perpetual snow. Capt. 
Reid, in a letter to the author, thus describes the perils 
that surrounded him at this time: 

" This was the most critical situation in which I 
ever found myself placed; — with only thirty men in 
the very centre of a people the most savage and pro- 
verbially treacherous on the continent. Many of them 
were not very friendly. Being completely in their 
power, we, of course, had to play the game to the 
best advantage. As there was no pasturage near the 
camp, we had to send our horses out. Our numbers were 
too few to divide, or even altogether to think of pro- 
tecting the horses, if the Indians were disposed to take 
them. So I even made a virtue of necessity ; and 
putting great confidence in the honesty of their inten- 
tions, I gave my horses in charge of one of the chiefs 
of these notorious horse stealers. He took them out 
some five miles to graze, and we, after taking supper, 
again joined in the dance, which was kept up until 
next morning. Our men happened to take the right 



course to please the Indians, participating in all their 
sports, and exchanging liveries with them. They 
seemed to be equally delighted to see themselves 
clothed in the vesture obtained from us, and to see 
our men adopting their costume. The emboldened 
confidence and freedom with which we mixed among 
them seemed to win upon their feelings, and make 
them disposed to grant whatever we asked. They 
taxed their powers of performance in all their games 
to amuse us, and make the time pass agreeably, not- 
withstanding our imminently precarious situation. 

" We had not arrived at the place of our camp be- 
fore we were met by all the head men of the nation. 
The Chief of all, Narbona, being very sick, was nev- 
ertheless mounted on horseback, and brought in. He 
slept in my camp all night. Narbona, who was prob- 
ably seventy years old, being held in great reverence 
by his tribe for the war-like exploits of his youth and 
manhood, was now a mere skeleton of a man, being 
completely prostrated by rheumatism, the only disease, 
though a very common one, in this country. Con- 
formably to a custom of the chief men of his tribe, 
he wore his finger nails very long, probably one and a 
half inches — formidable weapons ! He appeared to 
be a mild, amiable man, and though he had been a 
warrior himself, was very anxious before his death to 
secure for his people a peace with all their old enemies, 
as well as with us, the ' New Men,' as he called us. 

" Upon the evening after our arrival we held a grand 
talk, in which all the old men participated. Most of 
them seemed disposed for peace, but some opposed it 
as being contrary to the honor of the Navajos, as well 
as their interest, to make peace with the Mexicans ; 


doniphan's expedition. 

though they were willing to do so with us. The peace 
party, however, prevailed, and by fair words and 
promises of protection, I succeeded in obtaining a 
promise from the principal men, that they w r ould over- 
take me at the Agua Fria, a place some forty miles 
from Jackson's camp, from whence we would go to- 
gether to Santa Fe and conclude the final treaty.* — 
The night passed off in a variety of diversions ; and 
in the morning, notwithstanding the most urgent de- 
sire on the part of our entertainers that we would stay, 
I thought it prudent to return, as we were running 
short of provision. Our horses were forthcoming 
without a single exception, and as soon as we caught 
them, we turned our faces towards camp. 

" Although this expedition was one of much hazard, 
yet it turned out to be one of much pleasurable ex- 
citement, and attended with no loss or harm. The 
country through which we traveled is amongst the 
finest portions of Mexico ; — decidedly the best for the 
growth of stock, and presenting more interest and va- 
riety in its features than any over which I have traveled. 
It is, however, very destitute of water, so much so, 
as to make it dangerous for those who travel without 
a guide. On this account, more than by its mountain 
fastnesses, it is impregnable to invasion. The people 
who inhabit it, and who were the object of our visit, 
are in many respects singular and unlike any other of 
the aboriginal inhabitants of this continent. Their 
habits are very similar to those of the Tartars. They 

* Capt. Reid at this time was not apprised of the fact that 
Col. Doniphan, who was invested with full powers to conclude 
a treaty of peace with the Navajos, had taken his departure from 
Santa Fe. 



are entirely a pastoral people, their flocks constituting 
their sole wealth. But little addicted to the chase, 
and never indulging in it, except when the game may 
be taken on horseback. Their weapons of war are 
the spear or lance, the bow, and the lazo, in the use 
of all which they are not excelled. They may be said 
literally to live on horseback. Of these animals 
they possess immense droves, and of a stock origin- 
ally the same with the Mexican horse, yet wonderfully 
improved. They pay great attention to the breeding 
of their horses, and think scarcely less of them than 
do the Arabians. They also possess many mules, but 
these are generally the proceeds of their marauding 
expeditions against the Mexicans. Indeed the whole 
of New Mexico is subject to the devastating incur- 
sions of these lords of the mountains. Of this, how- 
ever, you know as well as I." 

The evening after the captain and his party left the 
grand camp of the Navajos, on their return to Cebol- 
leta, as an evidence of the sincerity of their profes- 
sions, they dispatched a runner to the Americans, to 
warn them to take care of their horses, for that some 
of their young men were ill disposed toward them, 
and might pursue them with the view of capturing 
their stock. They, however, effected their return to 
Jackson's encampment without any serious molesta- 
tion, or any considerable difficulty. The chiefs started 
according to promise, to overtake the captain at 
Agua Fria, but were induced to turn back by a mis- 
creant Navajo, who assured them, that, if they ven- 
tured to Santa Fe, they would all be killed. Having 
had so many evidences of the bad faith of the Mexi 


Doniphan's expedition. 

cans, they were naturally suspicious, and therefore 
abandoned their purpose. 

Thus terminated this most extraordinary adventure 
among the Navajos, which, in point of excitement, 
interest, novelty and hazard, was equal, if not supe- 
rior, to any enterprise connected with the Navajo ex- 
pedition. Though this excursion was not productive 
of any immediate beneficial results, yet it was not 
without its more remote effects upon the people vis- 
ited, in making up their estimate of the enterprise and 
good faith of the Americans. Both the captain and 
the men whom he led, were as gallant as ever drew 
steel. The party arrived safely at Cebolleta after an 
absence of twenty days. 

Whilst Capt. Reid was on this excursion, a band of 
renegade Navajos came into the neighborhood of Ce- 
bolleta, and succeeded in driving off most of the stock, 
both mules and horses, belonging to the detachment 
under Lieutenant-colonel Jackson ; for the recovery 
of which, Capt. Parsons and Lieut. Jackson, with six- 
ty men, were sent out in pursuit of them. After much 
difficulty, they finally succeeded in recovering a por- 
tion of them, and returned to camp about the same 
time with Capt. Reid. The remaining portion was 
recovered by Major Gilpin. 


Major Gilpin and the Yutas — His march against the Navajos 
— His passage over the Cordilleras — Express to Col. Doni- 
phan — The San Juan — Passage over the Tunicha mountains — 
Deep Snows — Major Gilpin departs for the Ojo Oso — Col, 
Doniphan passes the Sierra Madre — Immense Snow Storm — 
Arrival at the Bear Spring — Doniphan's Speech to the Nav- 
ajos — Their Chief's reply — Treaty concluded. 

It has been related that, on the 18th of September, 
Major Gilpin, in command of two companies under 
Capts. Waldo and Stephenson, amounting in all to 
about one hundred and eighty men, left Santa Fe in 
obedience to an order from Gen. Kearney, and pro- 
ceeded forthwith to the neighborhood of Abiquiu, on 
the Rio de Chama, to preserve order and quiet among 
the border tribes. It was not anticipated that this 
force would be required to penetrate further into the 
mountainous regions of the west, than its present en- 
campment at Abiquiu, from whence it was expected 
that various small parties would make short excursions 
into the surrounding country, to clear it of marauders 
and depredators; the Navajo expedition being subse- 
quently conceived and projected. 

Most of the men composing this detachment, had 
not received their commutation for clothing, nor had 
any of them received any portion of the pay which 
had long been due them ; they would therefore soon 
be in want of the means of protecting themselves 
against the inclemency of the approaching winter. — 

^ 175 ) 


doniphan's expedition. 

With troops thus poorly provided, a few baggage 
wagons, and a scanty supply of provisions, Major Gil- 
pin arrived at the Chama about the 25th of the same 
month. Leaving the greater part of his men in this 
vicinity, he proceeded with a party of eighty-five men 
about one hundred miles above the valley of Taos, 
amongst the Yutas, a fierce and numerous tribe of In- 
dians, with the view to conciliate them and dispose 
them to a friendly intercourse with the Americans. 
Having in an incredibly short space of time collected 
together about sixty of their principal men, he returned 
with them to Santa Fe, where they entered into treaty 
stipulations with Colonel Doniphan on the 13th of 

After a short stay at the capital, Major Gilpin re- 
turned to his encampment at Abiquiu, where he re- 
mained in faithful discharge of the duties assigned him 
until he received orders to march against the Navajos. 
While in this quarter he preserved the utmost tran- 
quility amongst the Mexicans, Pueblos and Yutas, 
supplied his men with provisions from the adjacent 
country and villages, procured pack-mules and sump- 
ter-horses for the Navajo campaign, and sent his pro- 
vision and baggage wagons from Abiquiu to Santa Fe, 
that he might not be embarrassed by these things in 
his intended expedition across the mountains. 

On the 22d of November, Major Gilpin, acting un- 
der instructions from Col. Doniphan, left his encamp- 
ment on the Chama, and commenced his march against 
the Navajo Indians, completing in six days more than 
one hundred miles, having followed the Riode Chama 
to its source in the snowy regions, transcending the 
elevated range of mountains which separate the waters 

gilpin's march. 


of two great oceans of the world, and descending into 
the valley of the San Juan, a branch of the western 

Major Gilpin was accompanied by about sixty-five 
Mexican and Pueblo Indian allies, under command of 
a lieutenant.* The perils, hardships, and sufferings 
of this march were almost incredible, yet they were 
encountered and endured by the men with Roman 
fortitude. The rugged ways, the precipitous moun- 
tains, the dangerous defiles, the narrow passes, the 
yawning chasms and fissures in vitreous, volcanic re- 
mains, and the giant fragments of rocks, which ob- 
structed their passage, rendered the march arduous 
beyond the power of language to describe. The pas- 
sage of the Carthaginian general over the Appenines, 
and his sudden descent upon the plains of Italy, at- 
tracted the admiration of all Europe. The march of 
Bonaparte and McDonough over the snow-capt peaks 
of the Alps, astonished the world. Major Gilpin's 
march over the grander and loftier summits of the 
Cordilleras, eternally crowned with snow, was certainly 
an achievement not less arduous or perilous. 

On the evening of the 7th so much snow fell that it 
was with the utmost difficulty the men and animals 
could make their way among the mountain passes. 
In many places the snow had slid down from the 
peaks, as an avalanche, until it had accumulated 

* This allied force consisted of twenty Taos Mexicans, com- 
manded by Lieut, Virgil ; twenty Pueblos under Tomas ; and 
twenty-five peones in charge of the pack-mules. Santiago 
Concklin was Major Gilpin's Mexican, and Angel Chavez, his 
Navajo interpreter. Ignacio Salezar, and Benezate Vilandi 
were his guides. 


DONIFrIAN 5 S expedition. 

many feet, and even fathoms, deep. This day some 
Indians were seen upon the eminences at a distance, 
watching the movements of our men. They were 
pursued, but without success. On the next day they 
appeared in like manner, but in greater numbers. 
They were again pursued hotly; but they were so ac- 
tive, and could escape with so much facility into their 
mountain fastnesses, that it was not possible to capture 
them. On the 9th the Indians appeared in consider- 
able numbers, as before, upon the distant eminences. 
By the display of friendly signals they were induced 
to come into camp. They reported that they had seen 
some of the American forces and formed a treaty with 
them. These were no doubt the same whom Capt. 
Reid had previously visited. Upon this information 
Major Gilpin sent one of them to bear an express to 
Col. Doniphan, then on his way into the Navajo 
country, assuring them that no hostilities would be 
commenced until the messenger's return. Meanwhile 
the rest of the Indians remained quietly about camp, 
or followed the line of march. 

The next two days the detachment traveled down 
the San Juan forty miles or more, meandering the 
stream, and encamping on its margin, for water and 
pasturage. This beautiful, fresh, mountain stream, 
whose limpid waters reveal the very pebbles and bril- 
liant sands upon the bottom, and the fishes which 
sport in its waves, is about fifty yards wide, and was 
every where filled with Indians, watering their numer- 
ous herds of horses, sheep and other animals. From 
this cause the pasturage was greatly exhausted near 
the river, but was more abundant further out into the 
mountains. The three following days the march was 



continued towards the Tunicha mountains, whose 
bleak colossal summits tower magnificently above the 
clouds, and are plainly visible from the San Juan, a 
distance of seventy-five miles. This part of the march 
was over barren sandy plains and immense fields of 
gypsum, covered with pebbles worn smooth by attrition, 
which rendered the travel extremely laborious, the 
whole way being entirely destitute of either wood or 
grass, and only supplied with water which is both bit- 
ter to the taste and nauseating to the stomach. 

On the 15th the march was commenced over the 
Tunicha ridge, the grandest of mountains, consisting 
of huge masses of granite piled on granite, until their 
summits penetrate far into regions of clouds and pe- 
rennial snows. The ascent was long and arduous. 
The men, leading their horses and wading in the snow, 
were compelled to carry their arms, and thread their 
way amongst the huge slabs of granite and basalt 
which had crumbled from above, and lay in confused 
masses along the rugged ascent. Many animals were 
left, and perished by the way. Some of them, by a 
misstep, tumbled headlong over the precipices, and 
fell hundreds of feet below. It was useless of course 
to look into the abysses whither they had fallen ; for 
they were either dashed to pieces on the rocks, or 
buried in fathoms of accumulated snow. This day 
the Indian express-bearer returned to Major Gilpin, 
bringing orders from Col. Doniphan for him to be at 
Bear Spring on the 20th, stating that he would en- 
deavor to meet him there, requesting him to bring 
into that place all the Navajo chiefs he could find. 

The snow was now deep and the weather exces- 
sively cold. The fierce winds whistled along the 


doniphan's expedition. 

ragged granite hills and peaks. The prospect was 
horrid. Half of the animals had given out, and were 
abandoned. Thus were these men situated — half of 
them on foot, carrying their arms, stinted in pro- 
visions, destitute of shoes and clothing, and their way 
barricaded by eternal rocks and snow. Sometimes 
when they lay down at night, wrapt in their blankets 
and the skins of wild beasts, before morning they 
would be completely enveloped in a new crop of 
snow, and they would rise at day-dawn with benumb- 
ed limbs and bristling icicles frozen to their hair 
and long whiskers. They persevered. This night's 
encampment was on the bare summit of the Tunicha 
mountain, where there was neither comfort for the 
men, nor food, nor water for the horses. The deso- 
lateness of the place was dreadful. The descent on 
the 16th was even more terrible than the ascent had 
been the previous day. The men had to walk, as it 
was impossible to ride down the precipitous crags 
and spurs of the mountain. The packs would some- 
times slide forward on the mules, and tumble them 
down the rugged ways. The crevices between the 
rocks were filled with driven snow, many fathoms 
deep, so that man and horse would often plunge into 
these through mistake, from whence it was difficult, 
without assistance, to extricate themselves. Having 
accomplished the descent at sunset, the men built their 
camp-fires (for they had no tents) on a brook issuing 
from a cleft in the mountain's side, where they found 
wood, water, and grass. Here they enjoyed the ad- 
vantage of a little rest. 

The next day the march was continued through 
lovely valleys and handsome upland, the snow falling 

doniphan's detachment. 


excessively all day. The snow had now accumulated 
in such quantities that it was toilsome to advance at 
all. This night they staid at a place called Canon de 
TrigOy where the Navajos cultivate considerable quan- 
tities of wheat, and other small grain. The next 
morning a great many Indians visited the camp, and 
signified their wish to be friendly with the Americans. 
This day they came to the Challe ; and passed within 
a few miles of the celebrated strong-hold or presidio 
of the Navajos, called El Challe. 

On the 19th Major Gilpin with about thirty men, 
starting at dawn, went on in advance so as to reach 
the Bear Spring on the 20th, leaving Capt. Waldo to 
bring up the main body of the detachment. He 
arrived there safely, and in anticipation of Col. Doni- 
phan. Capt. Waldo brought up the rear in good 
order and time to the place appointed, where he ef- 
fected a junction with Col. Doniphan's forces. Here 
they rested. 

Let us now turn and consider the difficulties which 
Col. Doniphan and the men with him had to encoun- 
ter in arriving at the same place. We have hitherto 
mentioned how Col. Doniphan left Santa Fe on the 
26th of October, and with a body of three hundred 
men proceeded to Alburquerque ; crossed the river; 
meditated a separate march into the Navajo district ; 
was diverted from his purpose ; compelled to send 
his troops to Valverde to protect the merchants ; and 
how with a part of his staff, and four other men, he ar- 
rived at Cuvarro, on the 5th of November, w T here he 
found the detachment under Lieutenant-colonel Jack- 
son, who had just moved his camp to that place from 
Cebolleta. Captains Parsons and Reid had just re- 


Doniphan's expedition. 

turned from their excursions into the Navajo country. 
Capt. Reid's company, in consideration of the duties 
it had performed, and that the men were almost 
destitute of comfortable clothing to defend themselves 
against the cold, was permitted to return to Alburquer- 
que, to receive from the paymaster at that place their 
commutation for clothing, which had not yet been 
paid them. This sum was forty-two dollars to the 
private man and non-commissioned officer. 

On the 12th of November Col. Doniphan, while at 
Cuvarro, received an express from Major Gilpin, then 
on the San Juan, which was brought into camp by a 
Navajo Indian. Major Gilpin represented that he had 
seen large numbers of Navajos, who pretended to 
have already entered into treaty stipulations with the 
United States 5 forces, no doubt alluding to the agree- 
ment which they had made with Capt. Reid, and failed 
to carry out. Col. Doniphan replied to Major Gilpin 
by the same Indian, that no such treaty had been made; 
that Capt. Reid had been sent out for the purpose by 
Lieutenant-colonel Jackson, and had visited many of 
the Navajo chiefs, but that no definite treaty had been 
ratified ; and instructed him to bring all the Navajos 
he could find to the well known Ojo Oso, by the 20th 
of the month. This the major did. 

It was now the 15th of November, when Col. Doni- 
phan and Lieutenant-colonel Jackson took up the line 
of march for the Bear Spring, with about one hundred 
and fifty men under Capt. Parsons and Lieut. DeCourcy; 
Capt. Hughes and the other sick men being left at 
Cuvarro. This detachment was also scarce of provi- 
sions, and had neither tents, nor baggage wagons, but 



made use of pack-mules to transport provisions and 
cooking utensils. 

For two days the march was conducted up through 
a rich valley country, in the direction of the sources 
of the Puerco. The grass was moderately good for 
grazing purposes ; hut wood was scarce and the w r ater 
muddy and filthy. This district of country was occu- 
pied by that canton of the Navajos, of whom San- 
doval was the chief. On the evening of the latter 
day they encamped on a rivulet, whose waters came 
leaping down, in foaming cascades, from the moun- 
tain, and then disappeared in the sands of the valley. 
Having no tents, the soldiers quartered on the naked 
earth, in the open air; but so much snow fell that 
night, that at dawn it was not possible to distinguish 
where they lay, until they broke the snow w T hich cov- 
ered them, and came out as though they were rising 
from their graves ; for in less than twelve hours the 
snow had fallen thirteen inches deep in the valleys 
and thirty-six in the mountains. 

On the 17th they marched north-westerly, leaving 
the heads of the Puerco to the right, and passing 
directly over the Sierra Madre. The march w r as 
difficult in the valleys; but when they came to ascend 
the steep spurs and bench lands, which lead up to the 
mountains, a horrid, dreary prospect opened above 
them. The men and their commanders were almost 
up to their waists, toiling in the snow, breaking a w^ay 
for the horses and mules to ascend. The lowest 
point, in the main mountain, rose to a sublime height; 
and to the right, still towering far above this, pro- 
jected stupendous, colossal columns of ragged granite, 
and iron-colored basalt. In reaching the only point 


doniphan's expedition. 

where the main ridge could be crossed, many smaller 
mountains and intermediate, deep, narrow, rocky vales 
were to be passed. The snow in the gaps and narrow 
places among the rocks was frequently a fathom in 
depth. After much toil they reached the summit. 
To accomplish the descent into the valleys on the 
west side, was a labor not much less difficult than that 
which the soldiers had just finished. They rested a 
moment, and then began the descent. After the most 
serious and arduous labor, they reached the base of 
the great mountain, late at night, and took up camp 
at a spring, the water of which flows towards the 
Pacific. The depth of the snow was less on the west, 
than in the mountains, or on the east side. Finding 
good grass, wood and water, the soldiers took theii 
supper, and recounted, as they sat around their camp- 
fires, the dangers and adventures of the day. At 
length their toils were forgotten in the slumbers of the 
night. The faithful sentinel who, after such a day's 
labor, stood wakeful all night in the snow, while his 
weary comrades slept, does he not, reader, deserve 
your gratitude? He has no other reward. 

Having now passed the mountain, they traveled, on 
the 18th, over a valley country, in a westerly direction, 
— gently rolling hills, then rocky bluffs, then bench- 
lands, then crags and bleak knobs, and then barren, 
naked, giant masses of gray granite and dark basalt 
rising on the right, and a heavy forest of pines and 
cedars, always verdant, spreading over the lowlands 
to the left. In many places these colossal granite 
peaks shoot almost perpendiculaily out of the plain 
more than six thousand feet high. The surface of 
the country continued uniform for the next two day's 



march, except in some places there were gently swell- 
ing hills, with grassy recesses between, on the one 
side, and a heavy, unbroken forest of evergreens on 
the other. Here the Navajos pasture their immense 
droves of horses and mules, and keep their numerous 
flocks of sheep and goats. The aspect of the country 
continued thus until they arrived at the Bear Spring 
on the morning of the 21st; Major Gilpin, as already 
noticed, having got there on the day previous, with a 
number of the Navajo chiefs, who dwell in the country 
to the west and north-west of that place, commission- 
ed to bind the nation. 

There were now present at the Bear Spring, where 
the treaty was made, about one hundred and eighty 
Americans and five hundred Navajo Indians, including 
all the head chiefs of each of the cantons, composing 
that powerful tribe of mountain lords and scourgers 
of New Mexico. The parties being all present, to 
whom power was delegated to conclude a lasting 
peace between three nations, the Navajos, Mexicans, 
and Americans, the treaty was commenced on the 
21st, Col. Doniphan first stating explicitly, through 
an interpreter, T. Caldwell, the objects of his visit, and 
the designs and intentions of his government. One 
of their chiefs, Sarcilla Largo, a young man, very 
bold and intellectual, spoke for them. "He was 
gratified to learn the views of the Americans. He 
admired their spirit and enterprise, but detested the 
Mexicans." Their speeches were delivered alter- 
nately during the whole day. At sunset the parties 
adjourned to meet again the following morning. 

Meanwhile they repaired to their respective camps, 
the Americans posting out sentinels that they might 



not be surprised and massacred by the Navajos through 
treachery; and these that they might not come in- 
to the power of the Americans without their own 

On the 22d, Capt. Waldo having come in with one 
hundred and fifty men, swelling the aggregate num- 
ber of the Americans present to three hundred and 
thirty, the treaty was recommenced. Col. Doniphan 
now explained to the chiefs, "that the United States 
had taken military possession of New Mexico; that 
her laws were now extended over that territory, that 
the New Mexicans would be protected against vio- 
lence and invasion ; and that their rights would be 
amply preserved to them ; that the United States was 
also anxious to enter into a treaty of peace and last- 
ing friendship with her red children, the Navajos; that 
the same protection would be given them against en- 
croachments, and usurpation of their rights, as had 
been guarantied the New Mexicans ; that the United 
States claimed all the country by the right of conquest, 
and both they and the New Mexicans were now be- 
come equally her children ; that he had come with 
ample powers to negociate a permanent peace be- 
tween the Navajos, the Americans, and New Mexicans; 
and that if they refused to treat on terms honorable to 
both parties, he was instructed to prosecute a war 
against them." He also admonished them, "to enter 
into no treaty stipulations unless they meant to ob- 
serve them strictly, and in good faith ; that the United 
States made no second treaty with the same people; 
that she first offered the olive branch, and, if that 
were rejected, then powder, bullet, and the steel." 

Then the same young chief, of great sagacity and 

largo's speech. 


boldness, stood up and replied to the American com- 
mander thus: " Americans! you have a strange cause 
of war against the Navajos. We have waged war 
against the New Mexicans for several years. We 
have plundered their villages and killed many of their 
people, and made many prisoners. We had just 
cause for all this. You have lately commenced a war 
against the same people. You are powerful. You 
have great guns and many brave soldiers. You have 
therefore conquered them, the very thing we have 
been attempting to do for so many years. You now 
turn upon us for attempting to do what you have done 
yourselves. We cannot see why you have cause of 
quarrel with us for fighting the New Mexicans on the 
west, while you do the same thing on the east. Look 
how matters stand. This is our war. We have 
more right to complain of you for interfering in our 
war, than you have to quarrel with us for continuing a 
war we had begun long before you got here. If you 
will act justly, you will allow us to settle our own 

Col. Doniphan then explained, " that the New 
Mexicans had surrendered ; that they desired no more 
righting ; that it was a custom with the Americans 
when a people gave up, to treat them as friends thence- 
forward ; that we now had full possession of New 
Mexico, and had attached it to our government ; that 
the whole country and every thing in it had become 
ours by conquest ; and that when they now stole prop- 
erty from the New T Mexicans, they were stealing from 
us; and when they killed them, they were killing our 
people, for they had now become ours ; that this could 
not be suffered any longer; that it would be greatlv 


Doniphan's expedition. 

to their advantage for the Americans to settle in New 
Mexico, and that they then could open a valuable 
trade with us, by which means they could obtain every 
thing they needed to eat and wear in exchange for 
their furs and peltries." 

Col. Doniphan then invited their young men to the 
United States to learn trades, as he discovered them 
to be very ingenious, that they might be serviceable to 
their people. This pleased them, and they desired 
very much to accompany him to the United States, 
but they did not wish to go through Chihuahua, for 
they feared the Mexicans would kill them. This in- 
duced them not to go. 

Then the same chief said :— " If New Mexico be 
really in your possession, and it be the intention of 
your government to hold it, we will cease our dep- 
redations, and refrain from future wars upon that 
people ; for we have no cause of quarrel with you, 
and do not desire to have any war with so powerful 
a nation. Let there be peace between us." This 
was the end of the speaking. After which the follow- 
ing articles of treaty were signed by both parties. 

Memorandum of a treaty entered into between Colonel A. W. 
Doniphan, commanding the United States' forces in the Na- 
vajo country, and the chiefs of the Navajo nation of Indians, 
viz, Sarcilla Largo, Caballada de Mucho, Alexandro, San- 
doval, Kiatanito, Jose' Largo, Narbona, Sagundo, Pedro Jose 7 
Manuelito, Tapio, and Archulette', at the Ojo Oso, Navajo 
country, November 22d, 1846. 

Art. 1. A firm and lasting peace and amity shall hence- 
forth exist between the American people and the Navajo 
tribe of Indians. 

Art. 2. The people of New Mexico and the Pueblo In- 
dians are included in the term American people. 



Art. 3. A mutual trade, as between people of the same 
nation, shall be carried on between these several parties ; 
the Americans, Mexicans, and Pueblos being free to visit 
all portions of the Navajo country, and the Navajos all 
portions of the American country without molestation, and 
full protection shall be mutually given. 

Art. 4. There shall be a mutual restoration of all pris- 
oners, the several parties being pledged to redeem by pur- 
chase such as may not be exchanged each for each. 

Art. 5. All property taken by either party from the 
other, since the 18th day of August last, shall be restored. 

The undersigned, fully empowered to represent and 
pledge to the above articles their respective nations, have 
accordingly hereunto signed their names and affixed their 

Alexander W. Doniphan, 
Colonel commanding 1st Regt. Missouri Volunteers. 
Congreve Jackson, 
Lieutenant-colonel commanding 1st Battalion. 
William Gilpin, 
Major commanding 2d Battalion. 


his his 

Sareilla Largo, X Sagundo, X 

mark. mark. 

Caballada de Mucho, " Pedro Jose, 

Alexandro, " Manuelito, 

Sandoval, * Tapio, , 

Kiatanito, " Archulette, 

Jose Largo, " Juanico, 

Narbona, " Savoietta Garcia. 

The colonel then gave them some presents, which 
he had carried out from Santa Fe, for that purpose, 
explicitly stating that these presents were made, not 
by way of purchasing their friendship, for this the 
Americans were not accustomed to do, but were given 


Doniphan's expedition. 

as a testimony of his personal goodwill and friendship 
towards them, and as a sign that peace should 
exist between them. 

In return the chief presented Col. Doniphan with 
several fine Navajo blankets, the manufacture of 
which discovers great ingenuity, having been spun 
and woven without the advantage of wheels or looms, 
by a people living in the open air, without houses, 
or tents. Of these the colors are exceedingly 
brilliant, and the designs and figures in good taste. 
The fabric is not only so thick and compact as to turn 
rain, but to hold water as a vessel. They are used by 
the Navajos as a cloak in the day time, and con- 
verted into a pallet at night. Col. Doniphan designs 
sending those which he brought home with him to the 
war department at Washington, as specimens of Navajo 

Thus after almost unparalleled exertion a treaty of 
peace was concluded between the Navajos, New Mex- 
icans, and Americans, in a manner honorable to all 
parties. This was a novel, highly important and in- 
teresting proceeding. The Navajos and New Mexi- 
cans had been at war from immemorial time* The 
frontier between them had been the scene of continual 
bloodshed and rapine. At this crisis, the Americans, 
the enemies of the one, and strangers to the other, 
step in and accommodate their differences by a triple 
league, which secures peace between all three. This, 
together with his previous services, and subsequent 
achievements, not only entitles Col. Doniphan to wear 
the laurel, but also the olive, for he has justly earned 
the distinguished titles of victor and pacificator. 


Return of the troops to the Del Norte — Doniphan visits Zuni — 
Treaty between the Zunis and the Navajos — Description of 
Zuni and the Zunians — The Moquis — Ancient ruin — Remarks 
on the Navajo campaign — The Navajos — Their state and con- 

On the morning of the 23d the Indians peaceably 
returned to their pastoral employments, and the Ameri- 
cans, in detached parties, for the sake of convenient 
traveling, returned to the valley of the Del Norte with 
the utmost expedition. The men were all in want of 
provisions, having none except what the friendly Na- 
vajos generously gave them, and the grizzly bears and 
black-tailed deer which they hunted in the mountains. 
This consideration quickened their marches. 

Capt. Parsons and Lieut. DeCourcy hastily returned 
to Cuvarro, with their respective commands, by the 
same route they had come to the Bear Spring. They 
arrived there without serious misfortune, having lost 
only a few horses and pack animals by the way. They 
found that some of their men, who were left sick at 
Cuvarro, had died, others were past recovery, and all 
in a destitute condition, having neither comfortable 
clothing nor a plentiful supply of provisions. All the 
sick who were able to bear moving, together with their 
attendants, were now conveyed down the river Puerco 
to its mouth, and thence to Soccorro, where they were 
quartered. Amongst these were Capt. Hughes, and 
Lieut. Jackson. A few only, who were very ill, were 



doniphan's expedition. 

left at Cuvarro. Of these some died,* and the sur- 
vivors came on and rejoined their companies. This 
detachment arrived at the camp near Valverde, and 
formed a junction with the three hundred, who re- 
mained as a guard to the traders, about the 12th of 
December, much worn by distressing marches. Here 
they rested. 

The detachment under Major Gilpin, accompanied 
by Col. Doniphan, Lieutenant-colonel Jackson, and 
Lieut. Hinton, and the three Navajo chiefs, leaving 
the Ojo Oso on the same day, (23d of November) 
completed sixty miles in two days' march, and came 
to Zuni, a city built after the manner of the ancient 
Aztecs; during which they passed over a high rolling 
country, well timbered with stately pines and cedars, 
presenting a beautiful contrast to the barren, bleak, 
rocky ridges of the Sierra Madre, and Sierra de los 
Mimbres, which now rose on the left. 

This route lay over a ledge of gently swelling hills 
and high lands, dividing the head waters of the rivers 
Gila and Colorado. During this entire march there 
appeared numerous indications of the precious metals 
abounding. Blossom of gold, silver, lead, and some 
specimens of copper were seen. This whole moun- 
tain region of country is unquestionably rich in min- 
eral wealth. On arriving at Zuni Major Gilpin quar- 
tered his men, as usual, in the open air, near town. 
Col. Doniphan and a few others, including the three 
Navajo chiefs, lodged themselves in a spacious adobe 
building in the city. Now, there was a continual war 

* Silas Inyard, C. T. Hopper, Wm. Sterne, and several 
others, died near Cuvarro. 



between the Navajos and the Zunians. On this ac- 
count, these three Navajo chiefs durst not leave the 
colonel far at any time, because they feared that the 
Zunians would kill them. Col. Doniphan therefore 
appointed a guard for them, that they might not suffer 
any hurt. In the evening of the 25th, upwards of two 
hundred Zunians collected about the colonel's quarter. 
Having intimated that it was his intention on the next 
day to endeavor to bring them to a friendly under- 
standing with the Navajos, their implacable enemies, 
the leading warriors of the Zunians drew near, (for 
they were friendly towards the Americans) and en- 
tered into a dispute with the Navajo chiefs. Fiery 
speeches were made by each of the parties. The 
Zunians thought to lay hold on them and detain them 
as prisoners of war ; but they durst not do this through 
fear of the Americans, under whose protection the 
Navajo chiefs came in. One of the Navajo chiefs 
spoke for the rest. He said: 

"The cause of your present dissatisfaction is just 
this. The war between us has been waged for plun- 
der. You kill, and drive off our flocks and herds, 
and subsist your people upon them, and use them for 
your own advantage. To resent this, we have plun- 
dered your villages, taken your women and children 
captives, and made slaves of them. Lately you have 
been unsuccessful. We have out stolen you, and 
therefore you are mad and dissatisfied about it. But 
there is one thing you cannot accuse the Navajos of 
doing, and that is killing women and children. You 
know, not many years past, w T hen our women and 
children went into the mountains to gather pinons, 
your warriors fell upon and killed about forty of 


doniphan's expedition. 

them. This cowardly act was perpetrated when 
there were no Navajo warriors nigh to afford them 
succor. " 

A chief of the Zuni tribe replied, indignantly re- 
pelling the charge, and threatening to hold the Navajo 
chiefs as hostages, until the Navajos should deliver up 
those of their people whom they held as captives. 
The Navajo rejoined: 

"The Zunians may rest assured that we did not 
come over here relying on their generosity, magna- 
nimity, or good faith : but, being invited by Col. Doni- 
phan, w T e have come to see if we can make a peace 
with you, Zunians, which will be both honorable and 
advantageous to us. We rely alone on the integrity 
of the Americans, and their ability to protect us. We 
have not the slightest fear of any injury you may at- 
tempt to offer us, for we trust ourselves with a more 
honorable people. " 

Col. Doniphan here interposed, and advised them 
to meet the next morning and endeavor to form a 
treaty, stipulating entire friendship between the two 
nations ; that it would be much better for both parties 
to live in peace; and that war was a great evil. He 
then appointed the American camp, near the town, as 
the place of meeting. They met accordingly, and, 
after much debate, consummated a treaty of peace 
and amity, on the 26th, just and honorable to both 
parties. This was the last treaty Col. Doniphan made 
with any tribe of Indians. His labors with the In- 
dians were now finished. 

Zuni, one of the most extraordinary cities in the 
world, and perhaps the only one now known resem- 
bling those of the ancient Aztecs, is situated on the 



right bank of the river Piscao, a small branch of the 
Gila, or Colorado of California, near two hundred 
miles west of the Del Norte, and contains a singular 
and interesting population of upwards of six thousand, 
who derive their support almost exclusively from agri- 
culture. They clothe themselves in blankets, and 
other fabrics of their own manufacture. The Zu- 
nians being friendly disposed towards the soldiers, 
these procured of them a supply of provisions, and 
also of various fruits in which the country abounds. 
The Zunis, or Zunians, have long been celebrated not 
only for honesty and hospitality, but also for their 
intelligence and ingenuity in the manufacture of cot- 
ton and woolen fabrics. 

The city of Zufii was thus described by Col. Doni- 
phan to Mr. T. B. Thorpe,* of New Orleans : " It is di- 
vided into four solid squares, having but two streets, 
crossing its centre at right angles. All the buildings 
are two stories high, composed of sun-dried brick. 
The first story presents a solid wall to the street, and 
is so constructed, that each house joins, until one- 
fourth of the city may be said to be one building. 
The second stories rise from this vast, solid structure, 
so as to designate each house, leaving room to walk 
upon the roof of the first story between each building. 
The inhabitants of Zuni enter the second storv of their 
buildings by ladders, which they draw up at night, 
as a defence against any enemy that might be prowl- 
ing about. In this city were seen some thirty Albino 
Indians, who have, no doubt, given rise to the story, 
that there is living in the Rocky Mountains a tribe of 

* This account was written out by Mr. Thorpe, and first pub« 
lished in the New Orleans National, of which he is the editor. 


Doniphan's expedition. 

white aborigines. The discovery of this city of the 
Zunians will afford the most curious speculations 
among those who have so long searched in vain for a 
city of Indians, who possessed the manners and habits 
of the Aztecs. No doubt we have here a race living 
as did that people, when Cortez entered Mexico. 
It is a remarkable fact, that the ZuRians have, since 
the Spaniards left the country, refused to have any in- 
tercourse with the modern Mexicans, looking upon 
them as an inferior people. They have also driven 
from among them [not until recently, however,] the 
priests and other dignitaries, who formerly had power 
over them, and resumed habits and manners of their 
own ; their great chief, or governor, being the civil and 
religious head. The country around the city of Zuni 
is cultivated with a great deal of care, and affords 
food, not only for the inhabitants, but for large flocks 
of cattle and sheep. 55 

The seven villages of the Moquis are situated about 
five leagues further to the westward, on the same small 
river. The Moquis are an inoffensive, peaceably dis- 
posed people, detesting war and rapine ; yet they are 
both numerous and powerful. They manifest con- 
siderable skill in their manufactures, and subsist en- 
tirely by grazing and agriculture. Of these people 
Mr. Gregg thus speaks: " They formerly acknowledg- 
ed the government and religion of the Spaniards, but 
have long since rejected both, and live in a state of 
independence and paganism. Their dwellings, how- 
ever, like those of Zuni, are similar to those of the 
interior Pueblos; and they are equally industrious and 
agricultural, and still more ingenious in their manufac- 
turing. The language of the Moquis, or the Moquinos, 



is said to differ but little from that of the Navajos." 
The American army did not visit them, as they were 
at peace with all people, and stood aloof from the 
wars that continually raged around them. 

The affairs of the Indians being thus settled. Major 
Gilpin's detachment, on the evening of the 26th, start- 
ed for the valley of the Del Norte by way of Laguna 
on the Puerco. His first intention was, however, to 
proceed directly to Soccorro through the elevated 
range of mountains, called by the Mexicans, Sierra de 
losMimbres, but was convinced of the impracticability 
of that route by the Zunians, who informed him of the 
great dearth of water which prevailed in that region, 
and induced him to change his purpose. He then 
marched hastily to Laguna by a more northern pass 
over the mountains, and fell in with Col. Doniphan 
at that place, one hundred miles from Zuni, on the 2d 
of December. 

It will be remembered that Col. Doniphan, Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Jackson, and seven other men, separa- 
ting from this detachment, left Zufti on the 27th of 
November, and by a different manoeuvre in the moun- 
tains, reached Cebolleta, and thence proceeded to 
Laguna, falling in with Major Gilpin, as above related. 
On the head waters of the Piscao, and high up in the 
mountains, Col. Doniphan relates that he came to the 
ruins of an ancient city. This city, according to the 
best information he could obtain, had been built more 
than two hundred years, entirely of stone, and had 
been deserted more than one hundred years, as is 
supposed, on account of the earthquakes in the 
vicinity. Near the ruins are immense beds of vitre- 
ous deposit, and blackened scoriae, presenting the 


Doniphan's expedition. 

appearance of an extensive molten lake in the valleys, 
and other volcanic remains, with chasms and aper- 
tures opening down through this stratum of lava, to 
an unknown depth. This vitreous surface, with its 
sharp asperities, was exceedingly severe on the feet 
of the mules and horses, wearing them to the quick 
in a short time. The figure of the city was that of 
an exact square, set north and south, so that its four 
sides corresponded with the four cardinal points, being 
encircled by a double wall of stone, fourteen feet 
apart. These walls were three stories high; two entire 
stories being above ground, and the other partly above 
and partly below the surface. The space between 
these walls was divided into rooms of convenient 
size, (about fourteen feet square,) all opening into the 
interior. The remainder of the city, though much in 
ruins, appeared to have been built on streets running 
parallel to these walls. In the centre was a large 
square, or plaza, which, from its appearance, might 
have been used for military parade grounds, and for 
corralling stock in the night-time. In these rooms, 
large quantities of red cedar, which had been cut of 
convenient length for fire places, was discovered in a 
state of entire preservation, having been stored up for 
use more than a century. Col. Doniphan and suite 
cooked their suppers, and made their camp-fires with 
some of it, and then traveled on. This is all that 
could be learned of that remarkable ruin. 

Both of the routes traveled by Col. Doniphan and 
Major Gilpin, from Zuiii to Cebolleta and Laguna, and 
thence to the encampment at Valverde, were pro- 
nounced impracticable by the Mexicans. There were 
indeed long stretches, over sandy wastes, wherein 


The above cut was originally drawn to represent J. W. Patton, immediately after his 
first fire, at the battle of Brazito, but is here given as a sample of Colonel Doniphan's 

gilpin's squadron. 


no water could be obtained. These must be tra- 
versed. The soldiers and animals were therefore com- 
pelled to pass several consecutive days and nights, 
without eating or drinking. They effected their arri- 
val at the Valverde rendezvous, in parcels, between 
the 8th and 12th of December, Capt. Stephenson's 
company only being permitted to return to Alburquer- 
que to receive the commutation for one year's clothing 
which had long been due them. 

The march of the squadron under command of Ma- 
jor Gilpin, ranks among the brightest achievements of 
the war. His passage over the Cordilleras, and Tu- 
nicha mountains, accomplished, as it was, in the depth 
of winter, w T hen the elements and obstacles were ten 
times more dreadful than the foe, with men destitute 
of every thing but arms and resolution, meets not 
with a parallel in the annals of history. From the 
time of his leaving Santa Fe, including the diver- 
sion he made into the country of the Yutas, north of 
Taos, his column marched at least seven hundred and 
fifty miles, before reaching Valverde, over the loftiest 
mountains, and most inaccessible regions, on the con- 
tinent. By distress of marching he lost two brave 
men, Bryant and Foster, and one hundred and fifty 
head of stock. The success of the celebrated Navajo 
Treaty was not less owing to the gallantry and energy 
of this column in hunting up and bringing in the chiefs 
of that nation to the appointed place, than to the skill 
and diplomacy of Col. Doniphan, who brought the 
negotiations to so happy an issue. The marches of 
the other two columns, under Colonel Doniphan and 
Lieutenant-colonel Jackson, and Capt. Reid, were 
scarcely less arduous or astonishing ; nor was the 


doniphan's expedition. 

country over which these passed less impracticable ; for 
by reason of hardship and suffering, these lost a great 
number of animals, and seven or eight brave soldiers. 

Thus terminated this most arduous and difficult 
campaign against the Navajo Indians, of whom it may 
not be amiss to give a brief account, as touching their 
manners and habits of life. 

The Navajos occupy a district of country scarcely 
less in extent than the State of Missouri. In their 
predatory excursions they roam from the 33° to the 
38° of north latitude, and for the period of two hun- 
dred and fifty years, have with impunity, except in 
one or two instances, ravaged the whole Mexican 
frontier from Soccorro to the valley of Taos, plundering 
and destroying according as their caprices prompted 
them. Their strong places of retreat are in the Cor- 
dilleras, and that entire range of high lands which 
divides the waters of the Gila and Colorado of the 
west from those of the Del Norte. They stretch from 
the borders of New Mexico on the east, to the settle- 
ments of California on the west. They are supreme 
lords of this mountain country ; and, like the Asiatic 
Tartars, have no fixed abodes, but follow their flocks. 
Upon these, and the plunder they secure in their fre- 
quent incursions upon the New Mexican villages, they 
subsist themselves entirely. They are not addicted 
to the chase, except where the game may be taken on 
horseback. The bold and fearless character of the 
Navajos, together w T ith the magnificent mountain 
scenery of the country which they inhabit, awakens 
in the mind reflections not unlike those which any 
one is apt to entertain of the Highlanders and high- 
lands of Scotland, from reading the Scottish bards. 



Mr. Thorpe, upon the authority of Col. Doniphan, 
thus alludes to this tribe of American Tartars : " The 
Navajo Indians are a warlike people ; have no towns, 
houses, or lodges ; they live in the open air, or on 
horseback, and are remarkably wealthy, having im- 
mense herds of horses, cattle, and sheep. They are 
celebrated for their intelligence and good order. 
They treat their women with great attention, consider 
them equals, and relieve them from the drudgery of 
menial work. They are handsome, well made, and 
in every respect a highly civilized people, being as a 
nation, of a higher order of beings than the mass of 
their neighbors, the Mexicans. About the time Col. 
Doniphan made his treaty, a division of his command 
was entirely out of provisions: the Navajos supplied 
its wants with liberality." 

The art and skill which they possess in manufac- 
turing woolen fabrics, (the texture of which is so 
dense and fine as to be impervious to water,) and ap- 
parently with such limited means, is really matter of 
astonishment. The Navajos can easily muster fifteen 
hundred warriors for battle; and their aggregate num- 
bers cannot be less than twelve thousand. They are 
certainly the noblest of the American aborigines. 

Black-tailed Deer. 


General Kearney's march to California — Passes the Del Norte 
at Alburquerque — Arrival at Soccorro— The Alcalde — Kit Car- 
son — The Express — Capt. Burgwinsent back — Lieut- Ingalls 
— Apaches — The Copper mines—Red-Sleeve — Sierra del Btiso 
— Difficulties — The Gilans — Lieut. Davidson — Hall of Mon- 
tezuma — The Pimo villages. 

The manner in which Gen. Kearney settled the af- 
fairs, both civil and military, in New Mexico, and how 
the forces were disposed in different parts of that 
country for the preserving of good order, tranquillity, 
and subordination among the malcontents, has been 
related in the previous chapters. It now remains to 
speak of Gen. Kearney's stupendous march over the 
southern spurs of the Cordilleras to the settlements of 

On the 25th of September, Gen. Kearney left Santa 
Fe and commenced his great march for the distant 
shores of the Pacific, taking with him his staff officers, 
three hundred of the 1st dragoons, baggage and pro- 
vision wagons, and about sixty-five days' provision. 

The dragoons were commanded by captains, (now 
Major) Sumner,* Cooke, Moore, Burgwin, and Lieut. 
Noble, in place of Capt. Allen, Their horses were 
now sent back to Fort Leavenworth, and mules sub- 
stituted in their stead, as it was believed this animal 

* Major Sumner subsequently rendered important service at 
the battles of Churubusco and Chapultepec. 

Kearney's march. 


possessed more endurance, and was better adapted to 
the travel through a dry, mountainous country, mostly 
destitute of water and grass, than the horse. The 
general left orders at Santa Fe for Capt. Hudson's Cali- 
fornia Rangers, and the battalion of Mormons under 
Lieutenant-colonel Allen, to succeed him on the march 
as soon as the latter corps should arrive at that place. 

The general proceeded this day no further than 
Major Sumner's grazing encampment on Santa Fe 
creek. Grass and good spring water were obtained 
in sufficient quantities for the night's use. The nexi 
morning the ox teams, and then the mule teams, as 
was the usual practice with the army, started on the 
way by daylight ; for these necessarily travel slower 
than mounted men. The country during this day's 
march was thinly covered with grama grass, and occa- 
sional cedar shrubs, betokening the greatest sterility. 
Several mules being missing, and two wagons broken 
down, they encamped on the bank of the Del Norte, 
near San Filipe, where they spent the night, during 
which, some of their mules broke loose, and depreda- 
ted upon the neighboring cornfields. The complaints 
of the Pueblos were silenced by the payment of dam- 

This column now moved slowly down the valley of 
the Del Norte, passing through Algodones, Bernalillo, 
Sandia, Alburquerque, where crossing the river and 
proceeding about eight miles further, the general 
pitched his camp, on the 29th, near the village Pajar- 
rito. Here, owing to the scarcity of timber, the soldiers 
were compelled to buy fuel with which to cook their 
suppers. " A few days previous to this, and shortly 
after three companies of volunteers crossed the river on 


Doniphan's expedition. 

their way to Cebolleta," observes Capt. Johnston, "a 
party of Navajos crossed at this point, and killed eight 
Mexicans on the east of the Del Norte." Here, ob- 
serves the same author, "the sand-drifts, in various 
places, had accumulated into hills. Drifting sand 
seems to adhere to its own kindred material. It is 
fortunate that it is so. This country would otherwise 
be impassable as well as uninhabitable. The inhabit- 
able portion of New Mexico is confined to the immedi- 
ate borders of the streams. The bottoms on the Del 
Norte are about one mile and a half wide on an aver- 
age so far down, and are elevated but a few feet 
above the level of the running water. The Del Norte 
is rapid and regular, and its waters can be tapped at 
any point without a dam, so that irrigation is carried 
on successfully. It remains for greater improvements 
in this respect to develop the resources of the country. 
A large canal along the base of the hills might carry 
all the water of the Del Norte, and be a means of trans- 
portation, while its surplus water could be employed 
in the winter for filling reservoirs, and during the sum- 
mer to convey water directly upon the fields. In this 
way, the country could be made to support ten times 
its present population. The rains of this country all 
fall upon the mountain-tops, and the valleys are thus 
dependent upon irrigation, as the water only reaches 
them in the big drains of nature. From our camp, 
during the night, we could see upon the distant hills 
the camp-fires of the shepherds who lead their flocks 
afar from their habitations." 

From thence this column marched, in three days, 
about thirty-six miles, passing through Pajarnto, Pa- 
dillas, Isleta, Sineca, Lunas, Belen, Sabinaz, and en- 



camped opposite La Joya ; during which some por- 
tions of the country were under a high state of cultiva- 
tion, while in other places the earth was entirely bare, 
or covered by white efflorescences of soda. The 
river was occasionally skirted by clusters and groves 
of alamos. Here the soldiers took some fine turtle 
and cat-fish out of the Del Norte, upon w 7 hich they 
feasted sumptuously during the night. 

The next day, which was the 3d of October, the 
general lay in camp, awaiting the arrival of the Mexi- 
can caretas, and the ox-teams which had fallen one 
day in the rear. "During the day an express came in 
from Polvadera, twelve miles down the river, inform- 
ing the general that the Navajos had attacked the vil- 
lage, and he had been sent by the alcalde to bring the 
artillery, where they were still fighting when he left. 
Capt. Moore was sent with company (C) in defence of 
the Mexicans, and orders were sent to-day to Col. 
Doniphan [at Santa Fe,] to make a campaign into the 
Navajo country." 

[Mexican Cart.] 


The following day the general came to Polvadera, 
where he learned from Capt. Moore that about one 
hundred Navajos had visited the place and driven off 
into the mountains a great quantity of stock ; but that 
no battle had taken place, as they appeared mutually 
to dread each other. " The general here gave per- 
mission to the people of New Mexico, living on the 
Rio Abajo, to march against the Navajos in retaliation 
for the many outrages they had received at their hands." 
Thus it will appear, that the Pueblos who offered their ! 
services to Lieutenant-colonel Jackson before arriving 
at Cebolleta, and which were rejected, w T ere not acting 
without instructions from the head of the government. 

Thence on the 5th, the march w r as continued through 
Limitar, Soccorro, and Huertas. It was at Soccorro 
the general took possession of certain mules, of which 
the Alcalde had deprived the legal owners in conse- 
quence of their carrying on contraband trade with the 
Apaches, and w T hich he claimed as the rightful per- 
quisites of his office. They now became the property 
of the American government, and were appropriated 
accordingly. The American army had not, hitherto, 
visited any of the settlements thus far south in the 
great Del Norte valley. The inhabitants therefore 
gazed with astonishment and admiration upon an army 
passing orderly, and silently through the country ; ab- 
staining from acts of violence and outrage, as though 
it were in the country of an ally. 

Thence having progressed, on the 6th, about three 
miles, this column was met by Lieutenant Kit. Car- 
son with a party of fifteen men (among them, six 
Delaware Indians) direct, on express, from Mon- 
terey, w r ith sealed dispatches for Washington. He 



represented California as being in quiet possession of 
the Americans. The General then said—" Lieuten- 
ant! you have just passed over the country we intend 
to traverse, and you are well acquainted with it : we 
want you to go back with us as our guide, and pilot 
us through the mountains and deserts." Carson re- 
plied — "I have pledged myself to go to Washington, 
and I cannot think of neglecting to fulfil that pro- 
mise. 5 ' The General then said — u I will relieve you 
of all responsibility, and entrust the mail in the hands 
of a safe person, who will carry it on speedily." Car- 
son finally consenting, " turned his face to the west- 
ward again, just as he was on the eve of entering the 
settlements after his arduous trip, and when he had 
set his hopes on seeing his family. It requires a 
brave man to give up his private feelings thus for the 
public good; Carson is one such." 

Carson's party were not till then apprised of the 
conquest of New Mexico by the American troops, and 
therefore, although they had lost most of their ani- 
mals, intended, if the New Mexicans should prove 
hostile, to make as speedy a transit across that coun- 
try as possible, during which they counted on procur- 
ing such an outfit, and supply of provisions as would 
enable them to pass the plains, and reach the States. 
The column now moved on ten miles, encamping in 
a beautiful cotton-wood grove, where the general 
issued orders, reducing his command to one hundred 
men. California being in quiet possession of the 
Americans, there appeared to be no advantage in car- 
rying a strong force to that distant country. The rest 
of the command was now put under requisition to 
supply these with the best possible outfit for the long 


Doniphan's expedition. 

and arduous campaign. The new organization for 
the expedition stood thus: General Kearney with his 
aids-de-camp, Captains Turner and Johnston; Major 
Swords, quartermaster ; Griffin, assistant surgeon ; 
Lieutenants Warner and Emory, topographical en- 
gineers; and two companies of the 1st dragoons, 
(fifty men each) commanded by Captain Moore and 
Lieutenant Hammond, including the section of moun- 
tain howitzers under Lieutenant Davidson, each com- 
pany being furnished with three wagons, drawn by 
eight stout mules. 

This evening the Apaches brought into the General 
four young men as guides. Their geographical know- 
ledge was extensive and accurate, yet they could not 
tell what route was practicable for wagons. Fitzpat- 
rick was dispatched to Santa Fe, and thence to Fort 
Leavenworth, with the mail from California. The 
other three companies of the 1st dragoons, and the 
principal part of the baggage train were sent back 
under Major Sumner, to winter at Alburquerque. 

From thence in three days' march they made fifty 
miles, crossed the river and encamped south-west of 
the Jornada mountain, w T hich is a heap of volcanic 
cinders and igneous rocks ; during which they passed 
much rough road, where the rocks, asperities and 
thickets of mezquite, rendered it necessary to send in 
advance a pioneer party with axes and picks to clear 
the way. The wagons progressed slowly ; some of 
them were already broken, and many of the mules 
began to fail. The general determined to send from 
this place to Major Sumner for mules to haul the six 
wagons back to the valley of the Del Norte, and re- 
solved to resort at once to pack-mules and sumpter 



horses as a means of transporting his baggage and pro- 
visions, for he now foresaw the route would be im- 
practicable to either light carriages or heavy wagons. 

Accordingly Corporal Clapin and one Mexican, his 
name Zones, were dispatched for the purpose, about 
midnight, with orders to ride to Major Sumner's 
camp, sixty miles, without stopping. This they did. 
Meanwhile Captain Cooke was employed in opening 
a road for the howitzers and pack animals. The next 
four days they remained in camp, awaiting the arrival 
of the mules and pack-saddles. 

At this point on the Del Norte were discovered 
signs of the otter, the catamount, the wild-cat, the 
racoon, the deer and the bear; also of the crane, the 
duck, the goose, the plover, and the California quail. 
This latter differs from the quail of the United States, 
the male having a dark bluish, and the female a reddish 
plumage. On the 13th Lieutenant Ingalls came up, 
bringing the pack-saddles and the United States' mail, 
containing general orders for General Kearney, and 
other letters and papers. These were answered, and 
all future communication with the States closed, for 
they had now T passed beyond the reach of mail facilities. 

On the 15th, this little army struck off from the Rio 
Del Norte in a south-westerly direction, ascending at 
once 200 feet to an elevated plain, intersected by nu- 
merous deep ravines, and dashing mountain streams, 
running through great chasms, and filled with the 
finest fish. Having completed a progress of twenty- 
four miles, over a country where the hills were cap- 
ped with iron-colored, basaltic rocks, and the valleys 
and margins of the streams beautified with a new 
caste of tropical walnut, oak, hackberry, birch and 


doniphan's expedition. 

mezquite, the men encamped on a mountain rivulet, 
cooked their suppers, and staid for the night. 

Marching the next two days they passed over a 
beautiful country, watered by fresh, leaping, mountain 
streams, issuing from the southern spurs of the Sierra 
de los Mimbres, bordered and shaded by a small 
growth of live-oak, walnut, acacia, grape-vines, canis- 
sa and Spanish bayonet, and also fringed by the rich- 
est growth of grama grass, and came to the river Mi- 
nifies, about three miles beyond which they encamped 
on a small creek, in a cedar grove, near heaps of vol- 
canic glass and igneous rocks, where they obtained a 
plentiful supply of fine grama grass for their stock. 
Here they rested for the night. 

The next day the march was continued. Smoking 
fires w T ere made on the tops of the hills near the way, 
as friendly signals to invite the Apaches into camp. 
At sunset they arrived at the celebrated copper mine 
in the northern part of the State of Chihuahua, which 
Captain Johnston thus describes : 

"The veins of sulphuret of copper run through a 
whitish, silicious rock, like the blue veins running 
through white marble ; they vary in their knees, but 
traverse the whole substance. The rock breaks easi- 
ly ; and the pick appears to be the only tool used for- 
merly. Occasional veins of pure copper, very yellow 
from the quantity of gold it contains, traverse the 
whole mass. I saw in the rollers lying over the mine 
masses of the blue limestone, supposed to be creta- 
cious : the water had filled many of the abandoned 
chambers of the mine ; in others, the flies had perched 
themselves in great numbers to pass the winter. The 
fort, which was erected to defend the mines, w r as built 



in shape of an equilateral triangle, with round towers at 
the corners ; it was built of adobe, with walls four feet 
thick. The fort was in tolerable preservation ; some 
remains of the furnaces were left and piles of cinders; 
but no idea could be formed of the manner of smelting 
the ore, except that charcoal, in quantities, was used 
Several hundred dollars' worth of ore had been got 
ready for smelting when the place was abandoned. 
McKnight, who was nine years a prisoner in Chihua- 
hua, made a fortune here, and abandoned the mines 
in consequence of the Apache Indians cutting off his 
supplies. At one time they took eighty pack mules 
from him. The mine is very extensive, and doubt- 
less immensely valuable. Water is abundant, and 
pasture fine, and many lands which will furnish bread- 
stuffs by cultivation. Wood is very abundant, and 
particularly in the vicinity." 

From thence, in one days' march, they completed 
thirty miles, passing the San Vicentia Spring, and the 
high rocky ridges that separate the waters of the gulf 
of Mexico from the gulf of California. Several mules 
failed on this march, and were abandoned amongst the 
rocks and crags. 

The next morning, Red Sleeve, an Apache chief, 
with twenty of his warriors and some squaws, visited 
the camp, and gave assurances of their friendly inten- 
tions and wishes. They were habited after the man- 
ner of the Mexicans, with wide drawers, moccasins 
turned up in front, and leggins to the knees, with a 
keen dagger-knife inserted in the folds of the leggin 
on the outside for convenient use in cases of sudden 
assault. Their hair w^as long and flowed loosely in 
the wind ; they mostly had no head-dress. To turn 


doniphan's expedition. 

the scorching rays of an almost vertical sun from their 
faces, and preserve their eyes, some of them used 
a fantastic kind of shield, made of raw-hide and 
dressed buckskin ; while others of them employed a 
fan of twigs, or a buzzard's wing, for the same purpose. 
They were armed in part with Mexican fusils, partly 
with lances, and bows and arrows. The general gave 
Red Sleeve and two other chiefs, papers, showing that 
he had held a talk with them, and that they had 
promised perpetual friendship with the Americans. 

Also another Apache chief came into camp and 
harangued the General thus: "You have taken Santa 
Fe; let us go on and take Chihuahua and Sonora; 
w T e will go with you. You fight for the soul; we 
fight for plunder; so we will agree perfectly; their 
people are bad christians ; let us chastise them as they 
deserve." The General of course rejected his pro- 
posal; and so they all went away. This day the 
march was down a deep valley of rich grama grass, 
watered by a cool rivulet, with high hills and piles of 
volcanic rock on either hand; and having completed 
five miles they came to the famous river Gila, "a 
beautiful mountain stream about thirty feet wide, and 
a foot deep on the shallows, and hemmed in by moun- 
tains ; the bottom being not more than a mile wide. 
The signs of beaver, bear, deer, and turkey, besides the 
tracks of herds of Indian horses, were plain to be seen 
on the sand." Now turning south, they advanced 
about two miles and a half farther and encamped at 
the base of a ledge of hills with summits of dark, rag- 
ged, iron-colored rocks, where the river passes through 
a deep fissure or canon, impassable by cavalry. Here 
the soldiers took some fine fish from the river, which 



were of delicate and excellent flavor. Therefore they 
feasted that night. 

Thence after eleven days they came to the river 
San Francisco, emptying into the Gila by the left 
bank, during which they passed over rugged moun- 
tains of dingy rock, and encountered the most serious 
opposition from the deep ravines, and chasms, and 
precipitous bluffs, which every where obstructed the 
way, and prevented the march. 

From the summit of these mountains near Sierra del 
Buso, a magnificent scene opens to view. The Gila, 
winding its tortuous way through innumerable valleys 
and deep canons ; the dark, iron-colored peaks of the 
mountains limiting the horizon towards the south-west- 
ward ; and the broad plain south of Del Buso, extending 
from the Del Norte to the Gila, richly carpeted with the 
grama, all exhibit a picture of a grand and sublime 
nature. The whole country appears to be a succes- 
sion of valleys, hills, highlands, rocky ridges, moun- 
tains and lofty peaks of granite and black igneous 
rocks, reaching far above the clouds. It was during 
their passage through these mountain ranges that one 
of the howitzers, and the draught mules, tumbled 
down a steep declivity in the night time, and entirely 
disappeared in a deep chasm or ravine, whence they 
were extricated by Lieutenant Davidson, after much 
labor, uninjured. 

During this march they were necessitated, in con- 
sequence of the rocky and precipitous ranges of moun- 
tains which frequently traverse the river, and through 
which the water has forced its w T ay in deep canons 
and socky passes, to cross and recross the Gila several 
times On one occasion they were compelled to make 


Doniphan's expedition. 

a detour on the south side, of fourteen miles, to avoid 
one of those deep, rocky defiles through which the 
river flows in dashing falls and foaming cascades, 
utterly impassable by man or horse. Also, in the val- 
leys near the spurs and projecting points of the smaller 
class of mountain ranges, the diluvion is cut into im- 
mensely deep gutters and channels, which render the 
passage of an army almost impossible. 

While encamped on the San Francisco, small 
groups of Gilans made their appearance on the tops 
of the distant hills and spurs of the mountains. They 
made friendly signals. Hereupon the Americans 
called them, and sent Captain Moore and Lieutenant 
Carson as messengers to them, bearing a white flag. 
The messengers shook them by the hand, and spoke 
to them kindly; but they could not be induced to 
come into camp. The reason of their extreme timidi- 
ty towards the Americans is said to be this : 

" They have been harshly dealt with by Americans, 
in the employment of Chihuahua, who have hunted 
them, at fifty dollars a scalp, as we would hunt 
wolves ; and one American decoyed a large number 
of their brethren in rear of a wagon to trade, and fired 
a field-piece among them." This produced great 
havock amongst them, and lasting dread of the Ame- 

From thence they passed the Gila again, and having 
traveled eight miles, halted to refresh themselves 
at the head of a cafion, preparatory to commencing the 
march over the Jornada, or sand plain, sixty miles in 
extent, without water. Here evidences of a former 
settlement were discovered, such as a profusion of red 
(lottery scattered over the ground. They now, after 



a few hours rest, began their passage over a tall, rug- 
ged chain of mountains, leaving the river where it 
dashed, foaming through the gorge, skirted by clus- 
tering alamos. They ascended the mountains by an 
Indian trail, and, after traveling ten miles, halted near 
a spring high up among the masses of rock. This 
day's march was arduous. Three mules used in 
drawing the artillery, failed, and one of the howitzers 
got broken. So rough and inaccessible were the 
ways, that Lieut. Davidson and party were obliged 
to abandon the howitzers, and come into camp for a 
guard to protect them from injury until the next morn- 
ing. Accordingly a detail of six men w r as dispatched, 
long after dark, to watch over them until day-dawn, 
when they were conveyed into camp. This was near 
the mouth of the San Francisco. 

A novel species of the cactus, which had made its 
appearance on the hill sides, and among the maguey 
and Spanish bayonet, deserves to be noticed. This 
species, called by the Mexicans pateja, is sometimes 
thirty feet high, two feet and a half in diameter, bears 
a fine fruit, and is notched with fifteen flutes, with an 
interior structure of wood, corresponding to each of 
the flutes. 

The next morning the Apaches, in considerable 
numbers, perched on the distant hill tops and bleak 
knobs, evinced, by friendly signals, a desire to hold 
council with the Americans. After some effort, one 
of them was induced to trust himself in camp, and 
given some presents; then came another, and another, 
each in turn gaining confidence that the Americans did 
not intend to capture or injure them. They promised 
to conduct the general to w r ater, six miles further on 


Doniphan's expedition. 

the route, and expressed a desire to trade mules to 
the men. They then went away. Water was accord- 
ingly found. 

"The wigwams of the Apaches," observes Captain 
Johnston, " scarce peep above the brushwood of the 
country, being not more than four feet high, slightly 
dug out in the centre, and the dirt thrown around the 
twigs, which are rudely woven into an oven-shape, as 
a canopy to the house. A tenement of a few hours' 
work is the home of a family for years, or a day. " 

After a march of four days, wandering and bewil- 
dered among the hills and rocks, and on the desert, 
they again reached the river below the canon, where 
they rested and awaited the arrival of the howitzers 
one day. The next day they marched about eighteen 
miles, frequently crossing the Gila, and finally en- 
camping on the right bank. Dark, rocky, projecting 
spurs of the mountains, approach near the river, cov- 
ered with thickets of the mezquite, and the creosote 
plant. The valley was covered in places by the frag- 
ments of broken pottery. Some Apaches came to the 
tops of the mountain peaks, and hailed the column, 
displaying friendly signals. At length they were pre- 
vailed on by Capt. Moore to come into camp. They 
desired to conciliate the Americans. They staid 
one night, and having begged tobacco, went away. 

The following day they marched down the Gila, 
crossing from one side to the other not less than a 
dozen times in fourteen miles, in consequence of the 
rough rocky points, which extend to the stream, ren- 
dering it impossible to pass altogether on either side. 
This river, during a greater part of its course, runs 
tnrough immensely deep vallies, with lofty bluffs on 



either hand, or through great chasms where the moun- 
tains close into the water's edge. In these deep 
canons, where the bluffs stand perpendicularly, and 
rise to a frightful height, the water dashes along, 
foaming, and roaring, over the points of rocks, some- 
times winding tortuously, and sometimes gliding volu- 
bly and rectilineally down the vent between the moun- 
tains. Pottery was still discovered and the ruins of 
several ancient buildings. 

After a march of six miles on the 10th of Novem- 
ber, passing over plains which had once sustained a 
dense population, they came to an extensive ruin, one 
building of which, called the "Hall of Montezuma," 
is still in a tolerable state of preservation. This build- 
ing was fifty feet long, forty wide, and had been four 
stories high, but the floors and the roof had been 
burned out. The joists were made of round beams 
four feet in diameter. It had four entrances, — north, 
east, south and west. The walls were built of sun- 
dried brick, cemented with natural lime, which 
abounds in the adjacent country, and were four feet 
thick, having a curved inclination inwards towards 
the top, being smoothed outside and plastered inside. 
About one hundred and fifty yards from this building 
to the northward is a terrace one hundred yards long 
and seventy wide, elevated about five feet. Upon this 
is a pyramid, eight feet high and twenty-five yards 
square at top. From the top of this, which had no 
doubt been used as a watchtower, the vast plains to 
the west and north-east for more than fifteen miles, lie 
in plain view. These lands had once been in culti- 
vation, and the remains of a large ascequia, or irrigat- 


Doniphan's expedition. 

ing canal, could be distinctly traced along the range 
of dilapidated houses. 

About sunset the same day they came to the Pimo 
villages on the south side of the Gila. Captain John- 
ston observes: "Their answer to Carson, when he 
he went up and asked for provisions was, ' Bread is 
to eat, not to sell — take what you want. 5 The Gene- 
ral asked a Pimo who made the house I had seen. 
'It is the Casa de Montezuma, 5 said he, 'It was built 
by the son of a most beautiful woman, who once 
dwelt in yon mountain. She was fair, and all the 
handsome men came to court her; but in vain. When 
they came they paid tribute, and out of this small 
store she fed all people in times of famine, and it did 
not diminish. At last as she lay asleep a drop of rain 
fell upon her navel, and she became pregnant, and 
brought forth a son, who was the builder of all these 

He appeared unwilling to discourse further about 
them, as though some melancholy fate had befallen 
the people who formerly inhabited them. These were 
his ancestors. At length, observing that there were a 
great many similar buildings to the north, south, and 
west, he was silent. Some other Pimos and Coco- 
miracopas visited the camp. Messengers were now 
sent into their villages to purchase melons, fruits, and 
provisions. These soon came, although the distance 
was several miles. " They wanted white beads for 
what they had to sell, and knew the value of money. 
Seeing us eating, the interpreter told the general he 
had tasted the liquor of Sonora and New Mexico, and 
would like to taste a sample of that of the United 
States. The dog had a liquorish tooth, and when 



given a drink of French brandy, pronounced it 
better than any he had ever seen or tasted. The Mi- 
rocopa messenger came to ask the general what his 
business was, and where he was going ? he said his 
people were at peace with all the world, except some 
of their neighbors, the Apaches, and they did not de- 
sire any more enemies. He was of course told to say 
to his chief that our object was merely to pass peace- 
ably through their country: that we had heard a great 
deal of the Pimos ; and knew them to be a good 
people. 55 

These Pimos approached the Americans with the 
greatest confidence and suavity of manners, possess- 
ing a natural grace of carriage, great good humor and 
unbounded loquacity. They are a virtuous, honest, 
and industrious race, and subsist entirely by agricul- 
ture and grazing, and clothe themselves with woolen 
and cotton fabrics of their own manufacture. The Pi- 
mos and Cocomiracopas at present live neighbors to 
each other, the latter having recently migrated from 
the mouth of the Gila, and the Colorado. They are 
distinct races, and speak different tongues. These, to- 
gether with the Miracopas, number more than four 
thousand souls. 


Barrebutt — Fable of the Pirn os— Arrival at the Colorado — 
Mexican papers intercepted — The Jornada of ninety miles — 
Horse-flesh — The Mulada — Captain Gillespie — Battle of San 
Pascual— Gen. Kearney's official report. 

"On the morning of the 12th," says Capt. Johnston, 
"we awoke to hear the crowing of the cock and the bay- 
ing of the watch-dog,reminding us of civilization afar off 
in the green valleys of our country." Leaving some 
mules with the chief Barrebutt, they marched down 
through the settlements of the Pimos and Cocomiraco- 
pas, all of which are on the south side of the Gila, and 
having completed a distance of fifteen miles, encamped 
near the base of a mountain lying west of their vil- 
lages. Both the houses and costume of these Indians 
are similar. Their winter lodges consist of a rib- work 
of poles, about fifteen feet in diameter, of convenient 
height, thatched with twigs and straw, and cov- 
ered over with a layer of dirt, in the centre of 
which they build their fires. — Their summer shelters 
are of a much more temporary nature, being construc- 
ted after the manner of a common arbor, covered 
with willow rods, to obstruct the rays of the vertical 
sun. " The fable of the Pimos is," says our author, 
" that their first parents were caught up to heaven, 
and from that time God lost sight of them, and they 
wandered to the west; that they came from the rising 
sun." The chief of the Pimos said to the general u that 
God had placed him over his people, and he endeav- 




ed to do the best for them. He gave them good ad- 
vice, and they had fathers and grandfathers who gave 
them good advice also. They were told to take nothing 
but what belonged to them, and to ever speak the 
truth. They desired to be at peace with every one ; 
therefore they would not join us, or the Mexicans, in 
our difficulties. He shook hands with us and bade 
us welcome, and hoped we might have good luck on 
our journey. He said we would find the chief of the 
Maricopas, a man like himself, and one who gave sim- 
ilar counsel to his people." 

The entire plains adjacent, are susceptible of irri- 
gation, and have once sustained a numerous popu- 
lation, as is evidently shown by the ruins, and the 
remains of pottery scattered over the earth. These 
indications of the existence of a former race, are still 
more numerous on the Salt and San Francisco rivers. 

The next morning while they lay in camp, prepara- 
tory to commencing the march over the Tesotal Jor- 
nada, or journey of forty miles without water, the chiefs 
of the Cocomiracopas visited the general, and through 
an interpreter, said: " You have seen our people. 
They do not steal. They are perhaps better than 
some others you have seen. All of our people have 
sold you provisions. It is good to do so when people 
have commodities to exchange. If you had come here 
hungry and poor, it would have afforded us pleasure 
to give you all you wanted without compensation. 
Our people desire to be friendly with the Americans. '- 

From thence in ten days' march, following the course 
of the Gila, they came to the confluence of that stream 
with the Colorado, near which they encamped. Just 
before their arrival at this place, signs of a body of 

224 Doniphan's expedition. 

horsemen were discovered along the river, which 
excited some apprehension. It was at first conjec- 
tured that it might be Gen. Castro, on his way from 
Sonora, with a body of cavalry to regain possession of 
California. Lieut. Emory with twenty men was sent 
out to reconnoitre, when presently he discovered it to 
be some Californians, with five hundred horses, on their 
way to Sonora. He brought a few of them to the 
general, one of whom said : " There is a party of 
eight hundred armed Californians in the Pueblo de los 
Angeles opposed to the Americans, and also a party 
of two hundred at San Diego, friendly to the United 
States." Another said: "The Mexicans at the 
Pueblo de los Angeles are quiet, and the Americans 
have quiet possession of the whole country. " They 
both agreed that there were three ships-of-the-line at 
San Diego. The next morning a few of them were 
again brought into camp, one of whom was discovered 
by Lieut. Emory to have in his possession a package 
of letters. Some of these letters were directed to 
Gen. Castro. The seals were broken and the letters 
read by Gen. Kearney. One of the letters gave an 
account of an insurrection in California, and the pla- 
cing of Don Flores at the head of the insurrectionists 
at Pueblo de los Angeles. This was addressed to 
Gen. Castro. In another letter to a different person, 
it was asserted that a body of eighty Mexican cavalry 
had vanquished four hundred Americans at the ravines 
between the Pueblo and San Pedro, and captured a 
cannon called Teazer. These letters were re-sealed 
by Capt. Turner, and returned to the Mexican, who 
was then dismissed with them. The general now 
supplied his men with fresh animals, as many of theirs 



by this time had failed, in crossing the deserts and 
mountains. They now rested two days before starting 
upon the desert, or Jornada, of ninety miles without 
water, which lay on the route. 

They passed the great Colorado of the west, below 
the mouth of the Gila, which was deep and rapid; yet 
all got over safely and began the march upon the 
desert, which was continued w T ith little intermission 
for three days and nights, when they came to the 
Camisa, where they found a supply of water in a 
canon of the mountains. Here they enjoyed the ad- 
vantage of a little repose. Thence they marched 
over a rugged, rocky road, among hills and moun- 
tains, and after four days came to Warner's rancho, 
during which they lost many animals, and suffered 
much from hunger and fatigue, being compelled to 
subsist a part of the time on horse flesh. Here again 
they rested. 

This rancho is sixty miles from San Diego, and 
eighty from the Pueblo de los Angeles. Learning 
that there was a herd of mules fifteen miles from this 
place belonging to Don Flores, the leader of the insur- 
gents at the Pueblo, Lieut. Davidson with twenty- 
seven men was dispatched by Gen. Kearney at dark, 
with instructions to procure a sufficient number of 
horses and mules to remount the men. About this 
time, Mr. Stokes, an Englishman, came to Gen. Kear- 
ney, and informed him " that Commodore Stockton, 
with the greater part of his naval force, was at San 
Diego. 55 The general immediately dispatched a letter 
to the Commodore, informing him of his arrival in the 
country, and expressing his intention to march directly 
to San Diego. The next day Lieut. Davidson and 

226 doniphan's expedition. 

Carson returned, having in possession a large mulada. 
In a short time a party of French and Englishmen, 
and a Chilian, came to claim their stock, averring their I 
intention to leave the country. The general restored 
them a portion of the animals, and put the remainder 
in service. 

From thence on the 4th of December they ad- 
vanced fifteen miles, and came to the old mission of 
Santa Isabella, en route to San Diego, where it was 
Gen. Kearney's intention to communicate with the 
naval force under Commodore Stockton; and "on 
the 5th" observes Mr. Stanley, who accompanied 
Gen. Kearney on this expedition " we met Capt. Gilles- 
pie and Lieut. Beall of the United States' navy with an 
escort of thirty-five men. After making a late camp, 
Gen. Kearney heard that an armed body of Califor- 
nians was encamped about nine miles from us. Lieut. 
Hammond, with a small party, was sent out to recon- 
noitre. He returned about twelve o'clock, with in- 
telligence that the camp was in the valley of San Pas- 
cual, but learned nothing of the extent of the force, 
although it was thought to be about one hundred and 
sixty. At two o'clock on the morning of the 6th the 
reveille sounded, and at three our force was formed 
in the order of battle, and the march resumed. We 
arrived about daylight at the valley. The enemy were 
encamped about a mile from the declivity of the 
mountain over which we came, and as Lieut. Ham- 
mond had been discovered on the night previous, the 
Californians were waiting in their saddles for our 

"From a misapprehension of an order, the charge 
was not made by our whole force, or with as much pre- 



cision as was desirable, but the Californians retreated 
on firing a single volley, to an open plain about half 
a mile distant. Capt. Johnston and one private were 
killed in this charge. The retreat of the enemy was 
followed with spirit by our troops, skirmishing the 
distance of half a mile. When they reached the 
plains, our force was somewhat scattered by the pursuit. 
The Californians, taking advantage of this disorgani- 
zation, fought with desperation, making great havoc 
with their lances. It was a real hand-to-hand fight, 
and lasted half an hour. They were, however, driven 
from the field, with what loss we could not learn. 
Our loss was severe, seventeen being killed and four- 
teen w r ounded. Among the killed were Capt. John- 
ston, who led the charge of the advance guard, Capt. 
Benj* Moore and Lieut. Hammond. Gen. Kearney, 
Capt. Gillespie and Lieut. Wm. H. Warner were 
slightly wounded. Several non-commissioned officers 
were killed. 

"We encamped on the field and collected the dead. 
At first, Gen. Kearney thought to move on the same 
day. The dead were lashed on mules, and remained 
two hours, or more, in that posture. It w 7 as a sad and 
melancholy picture. We soon found, however, that 
our wounded were unable to travel. The mules were 
released of their packs, and the men engaged in forti- 
fying the place for the night. During the day the 
enemy w r ere in sight, curveting their horses, keeping 
our camp in constant excitement. Three of Capt. 
Gillespie's volunteers started with dispatches to Com- 
modore Stockton. The dead were buried at night, 
and ambulances made for the wounded ; and the next 
morning we started in face of the enemy's spies, being 


Doniphan's expedition. 

then about thirty-eight miles from San Diego. In our 
march we were constantly expecting an attack — spies 
could be seen on the top of every hill — but with a 
force of one hundred men, many of whom were occu- 
pied with the care of the wounded, we did not leave 
our trail. 

"We had traveled about seven miles, w 7 hen, just 
before sunset we were again attacked. The enemy 
came charging down a valley; about one hundred 
men well mounted. They were about dividing their 
force, probably with a view of attacking us in front 
and rear, when Gen. Kearney ordered his men to take 
possession of a hill on our left. The enemy seeing 
the movement, struck for the same point, reaching it 
before us, and as we ascended, they were pouring a 
very spirited fire upon us from behind the rocks. 
They were soon driven from the hill, only one or two 
being wounded on our side. Here, therefore, we 
were compelled to encamp, and also to destroy the 
most cumbersome of our camp equipage. A white 
flag was sent to Sen or Pico, the Californian command- 
ant, and an exchange of prisoners effected — -our bearers 
of dispatches having been intercepted by the enemy. 
We were more fortunate in getting an express through 
to San Diego for a reinforcement, and at the expira- 
tion of four days, during which w T e lived on the meat 
of mules, horses and colts, without bread or other con- 
diment, we were joined by a reinforcement of two 
hundred men, and on the 11th of December resumed 
our march. Not a Californian was to be seen, as we 
proceeded, and on the 12th we reached San Diego, 
and received from the officers a hearty welcome ; * 

gen. Kearney's report. 


having completed a march of one thousand and ninety 
miles from Santa Fe. 

Another account makes the American loss twenty- 
killed and fifteen wounded ; among the former were 
Capts. Moore and Johnston, and Lieut. Hammond of 
the 1st dragoons ; Sergeants Moore, Whitehurst, and 
Cox, and Corporals Clapin and West, and ten privates 
of the 1st dragoons ; one private of the topographical 
engineers, and one volunteer. The wounded w T ere 
Gen. Kearney ; Lieut. Warner, of the topographical 
engineers ; Capts. Gillespie and Gibson of the volun- 
teers, and Mr. Robidou, interpreter, and ten privates 
of the 1st dragoons. Gen. Kearney's official account 
of this hard fought action is as follows. 

" As the day dawned on the 6th of December, we ap- 
proached the enemy, (one hundred and sixty,) at San Pas- 
cual, who was already in the saddle, when Captain John- 
ston made a furious charge upon them with his advance 
guard, and was in a short time after supported by the dra- 
goons ; soon after which the enemy gave way, having kept 
up, from the beginning, a continual fire upon us. Upon 
the retreat of the enemy, Captain Moore led off rapidly in 
pursuit, accompanied by the dragoons, mounted on horses, 
and was followed, though slowly, by the others on their 
tired mules : the enemy were mounted, and among the best 
horsemen in the world ; after retreating about half a mile, 
and seeing an interval between Captain Moore with his 
advance and the dragoons coming to his support, rallied 
their whole force, charged with their lancers, and, on ac- 
count of their greatly superior numbers, but few of us in 
front remained untouched ; for five minutes they held the 
ground from us, when our men coming up, we again drove 
them, and they fled from the field, not to return to it, which 
we occupied and encamped upon. 

230 Doniphan's expedition. 

■'■it ■ ■ . * | 

" A most melancholy duty now remains for me : — it is to 
report the death of my aid-de-camp, Captain Johnston, who 
was shot dead at the commencement of the action ; of Cap- 
tain Moore, who was lanced just previous to the final re- 
treat of the enemy; and of Lieutenant Hammond, also 
lanced, and who survived but a few hours. We had also 
killed, two sergeants, two corporals, and ten privates of the 
1st dragoons, one private of the volunteers, and one man, 
an engage in the topographical department. Our howitzers 
were not brought into the action. The enemy proved to 
be a party of about one hundred and sixty Californians, 
under command of Andres Pico, brother of the late governor; 
the number of their dead and wounded must have been con- 
siderable, though I had no means of ascertaining how 
many, as just previous to their final retreat, they carried off 
all except six." 

After the strife of the battle was over the surgeon 
came to General Kearney, who sat bleeding at three 
wounds, and offered to afford him all the relief that 
was in his power. " First go and dress the wounds 
of the soldiers, "said he, " who require attention more 
than I do, and when you have done, then come to 
me." The surgeon proceeded to execute the order; 
but while busily employed, he looked around and saw 
the general fall backwards, exhausted by loss of 
blood. The surgeon immediately ran to his support, 
raised him from the ground, restored him, and dressed 
his wounds. 


Col. Stevenson — Com. Sloat and Lieutenant-colonel Fremont-*- 
Gen. Castro — Com. Stockton — The Revolution in California 
— Mr. Talbot — The insurgents under Flores and Pico — Gen. 
Kearney marches upon Angeles — Battles of San Gabriel 
and the Mesa— Capital recovered — The Capitulation. 

It is not proposed in this chapter, to give an histori- 
cal account of the movements of the Pacific squadron, 
commanded by Commodores Sloat and Stockton, in 
taking possession of the coast of California ; nor in- 
deed of the land forces under Lieutenant-colonel Fre- 
mont, except so far as may serve to illustrate the oper- 
ations of General Kearney while in that country. 

In the instructions furnished General Kearney by 
the War Department on the 12th of September, 1846, 
he was assured that a regiment of volunteers had been 
raised in the State of New York, commanded by Col. 
J. D. Stevenson, whose term of service would not 
expire until the close of the war with Mexico, which 
would immediately sail for California, and would, 
when arrived there, constitute a portion of his com- 
mand, to act as land forces. The secretary of war, 
writing to General Kearney, under date of June 3d, 
1846, further adds, "It is expected that the naval 
forces of the United States, which are now, or soon 
will be in the Pacific, w T ill be in possession of all the 
towns on the sea-coast, and will co-operate with you 
in the conquest of California. Arms, ordnance, mu- 
nitions of war, and provisions, to be used in that coun- 



doniphan's expedition. 

try, will be sent by sea to our squadron, in the Paci- 
fic, for the use of the land forces." A company of 
United States 5 artillery, commanded by Captain 
Tompkins, aided by Lieutenant Halleck, engineer, 
was also dispatched to the bay of Monterey, to co- 
operate with General Kearney and the marine forces 
in holding possession of California. 

In the month of July 1846, Commodore John D. 
Sloat, commanding the United States' naval forces in 
the Pacific ocean, acting in anticipation of instruc- 
tions from the Navy Department, and on his own re- 
sponsibility and clear conception of duty as a naval 
officer, (having on the 7th heard of the existence of 
w r ar between the United States and Mexico,) anchored 
in the bay of Monterey, with the Pacific squadron, 
and in less than twenty-four hours raised the Ameri- 
can flag in the old capital of the country. The gal- 
lant marines, led on by the commodore, proceeded on 
land, invested the city, and, without bloodshed or 
strenuous opposition, took formal possession in the 
name of the government of the United States. 

About the same period a corps of volunteers, consist- 
ing of American emigrants to California, commanded 
by General Ide and Captain Grigsby, raised the inde- 
pendent flag of the "Bear and the Star" in the 
settlements on the Sacramento, and held that part of 
the province in quiet possession. Their intention was 
to establish an independent government of their own, 
in the event the United States' forces did not co-ope- 
rate with them in wresting the country from the hands 
of the haughty Mexicans. These were styled the 


Lieutenant-colonel Fremont was, at this period, on 


the Bay of San Francisco, near the settlements of So- 
noma, in command of the topographical corps, which 
had gone out fromMo. early in 1846, and a few Cali- 
fornia volunteers. Hearing of the capture of Monte- 
rey, he ventured to raise the standard of his country, 
that he might co-operate with the naval forces in the 
peaceable conquest of California. Thus was Califor- 
nia bloodlessly and peaceably commenced to be revo- 
lutionized, and placed under the American flag, and 
American protection. The cities and settlements 
were soon occupied by the American arms, and the 
inhabitants, at first, treated with a clemency and con- 
sideration which very much conciliated and disposed 
them to desire a peace, and connection with the 
United States. They were accordingly protected in 
their persons and property in the amplest manner. 

This brilliant and highly important service having 
been rendered the country in a manner that met the 
cordial approval of the Executive, Commodore Sloat, 
whose modesty is only equalled by his gallantry, re- 
turned to the United States, leaving Commodore R. 
F. Stockton commander-in-chief of the coast, and of 
the bays and harbors. Commodore Stockton, in his 
instructions from the Navy Department, was permitted 
to establish in California, a temporary civil govern- 
ment, until the same should be abrogated or modified 
by competent authority. It may not be amiss in this 
connection to observe, that Commodore Sloat had been 
instructed by Mr. Bancroft, Secretary of the Navy, to 
blockade and hold possession of the bays and ports of 
San Francisco, Monterey, and San Diego ; and, if he 
deemed it advisable, also to hold the ports of Guymas, 
Mazatlan and Acapulco in a state of vigorous block - 


Doniphan's expedition. 

ade. These instructions descended to Commodore 
Stockton, his successor in the command of the Pacific 
naval forces. 

Commodore R. F. Stockton, and Lieutenant-colonel 
J. C. Fremont completed the conquest, which the gal- 
lant and modest Commodore John D. Sloat and his 
marines, had so gloriously and auspiciously begun. 
In a short time the whole ol California was in the 
hands of the Americans, and the American flag waved 
from every important place in the country. The civil 
functions of the government were at an end, and the 
governor and his forces dispersed amongst the moun- 
tains and deserts. Gen. Castro, commander-in-chief, 
with a small body of men escaped to Sonora, having 
addressed the subjoined proclamation to the Califor- 

" Fellow citizens ; — I carry away my heart full of the 
heaviest weight in taking leave of you. I go out of the 
country in which I was born, but in the hope of returning 
to destroy the slavery in which I leave you. I will come 
the day in which our unfortunate country can chastise 
exemplarily an usurpation so rapacious and so un- 
just, and in the face of the world exact satisfactions for its 
wrongs. My friends, I confide in your loyalty and patriot- 
ism ; and in proof of the confidence which you merit from 
me, I leave to you my wife and innocent children. They 
have no fortune, and are even without means of subsisting. 
I leave them to your favor and guidance, considering that I 
lose all to save national honor. 

" I acknowledge the faithfulness that you have constantly 
manifested towards me. I believe it is right for me to ex- 
hort you again not to abandon the sentiments of fidelity for 
the mother country ; preserve in your bosoms the holy fire 
of liberty, and the day of vengeance will come. Never 



deny the Mexican name. Fellow-citizens, adieu! In taking 
leave of you I feel my soul inundated with bitterness, con- 
sidering I leave you as slaves ; but the glorious day will 
come when you will break your chains and again be free 
and independent. God and liberty." 

Commodore Stockton next proceeded with a part 
of his force to San Pedro, where, disembarking them 
he formed a junction with Lieutenant-colonel Fremont 
in command of a small body of California volunteers, 
who had been recently enrolled for the service. With 
their united forces they now marched to the Pueblo de 
los Angeles, the new capital of the country. Upon 
their approach Gen. Castro and his troops fled without 
offering the slightest resistance. The Americans en- 
tered the city, and raised the flag of the "stars and 
stripes." Commodore Stockton, having issued a pro- 
clamation to the people of California, setting forth cer- 
tain obnoxious ordinances and regulations, which sub- 
sequently proved the ground of the attempted revolu- 
tion of Flores and Pico, and leaving Capt. Gillespie 
with nineteen volunteers to garrison the capital, re- 
turned to San Pedro. Not long afterwards the revolu- 
tion breaking out, the insurgents compelled Capt. Gil- 
lespie to capitulate, and retire with his slender force to 
San Pedro. It is due to Capt. Gillespie, however, to 
state that the capitulation, under the circumstances, 
was highly honorable to him and his men. The forces 
of the enemy were overwhelming. The capital w T as 
now repossessed by the Californians. 

Meanwhile Mr. Talbot, of the topographical corps, 
under Lieutenant-colonel Fremont, who had been sta- 
tioned with sixteen men at Santa Barbara, was hotly 
besieged by an insurrectionary force, for a considera- 


doniphan's expedition. 

ble time. Finally, however, he and his men, with 
much peril and difficulty, effected their escape to the 
mountains. After wandering among the rocks and 
fastnesses for several days, and suffering incredibly 
from fatigue, hunger, and other privations, they ar- 
rived at Monterey in the greatest destitution. 

Not far from this period Commodore Stockton, leav- 
ing a sufficient garrison in Monterey, and a part of the 
fleet in the bay, sailed with three ships-of-war for the 
harbor of San Diego, with the view of marching thence 
against the insurgents, who were posted in considera- 
ble numbers at the Pueblo de los Angeles. At San 
Diego, on the 12th of December, he formed a junc- 
tion of his marine and volunteer forces with the over- 
land detachment of the 1st dragoons of the United 
States' army, under immediate command of General 
Kearney. The malcontents had concentrated at An- 
geles, and armed themselves, with the design of re- 
covering the country from the hands of the Ameri- 
cans. They were six hundred strong, and were 
headed by Don Mariana Flores and Don Andres Pico, 
the latter of whom commanded the Californians on 
the 6th of December in the action at San Pascual. 
Having compelled the garrison, which was stationed 
at Angeles upon the conquest of the country, to ca- 
pitulate ; driven all the Americans from the interior to 
the seaboard ; and come near defeating the marine ex- 
pedition of Captain Mervine, the insurgents confidently 
hoped to re-establish the former power and govern- 
ment of California. 

On the 29th of December General Kearney and 
Commodore Stockton, in joint command of five hun- 
dred men, consisting of marines, California volunteers, 



a detachment of the 1st dragoons of the United States' 
army, and a battery of artillery, left San Diego upon 
the march against the insurgent forces at the Pueblo de 
los Angeles, a distance of one hundred and forty-five 
miles. The entire force was on foot, with the excep- 
tion of about sixty volunteer mounted riflemen, com- 
manded by Captain Gillespie. 

On the 8th of January the insurgents showed them- 
selves, six hundred strong, with four pieces of artil- 
lery, occupying the heights, prepared to dispute the 
passage of the river San Gabriel. General Kearney 
now drew up his forces in order of battle, passed the 
river under a heavy fire from the enemy, charged the 
heights, drove him from his strong position, and gain- 
ed a most signal victory. This action lasted one hour 
and a half, The next day, (the 9th,) continuing the 
march towards the capital, on the plains of the Mesa, 
the insurgents, having concealed their forces and 
cannon under the cover of a ravine, until the Ameri- 
cans were within gunshot, opened a galling fire upon 
their right flank, and at the same instant charged them 
in front and rear. In a short time, however, the in- 
surgents were repulsed with considerable loss, and 
driven from the field. The loss of the Americans on 
both days was two killed and fifteen wounded ; that 
of the enemy was estimated in killed and wounded at 
no less than eighty-five. On the 10th the Americans 
repossessed the city without farther opposition, while 
the bayonets and lances of the retreating insurgents 
glittered on the adjacent hills and mountains. 

Lieutenant-colonel Fremont, with his battalion of 
four hundred mounted California volunteers, whom 
he had recently enrolled for the service in the settle- 


Doniphan's expedition. 

merits of New Helvetia, Sonoma, and the northern dis- 
tricts, had performed a march of one hundred and 
twenty miles, from Santa Barbara to San Fernando, 
while Gen. Kearney was marching from San Diego, 
in the hope that the former would be able to effect a 
junction with him in time to co-operate against the 
malcontents. In this expectation, however, the gen- 
eral was disappointed. 

After the battle of the 9th, Andres Pico, the second 
in command of the insurgent forces, having, as some 
say, more than once forfeited his parole of honor, and 
expecting little clemency from Gen. Kearney, escaped 
with a few of his adherents, and on the 12th meeting 
Lieutenant-colonel Fremont on his way to Angeles, 
effected with that officer, (who as yet was not fully 
apprised of what had transpired) a stipulation, secu- 
ring immunity for his crimes. This treaty was after- 
wards approved by the commander-in-chief, from 
motives of policy. The following is Commodore 
Stockton's account of the affair: 

Head Quarters, Ciudad de los Angeles, > 
January 11th, 1847. 5 

Sir : I have the honor to inform you that it has pleased 
God to crown our poor efforts to put down the rebellion, 
and to retrieve the credit of our arms with the most com- 
plete success. The insurgents determined with their whole 
force, to meet us on our march from San Diego to this 
place, and to decide the fate of the territory by a general 

Having made the best preparation I could, in the face of 
a boasting and vigilant enemy, we left San Diego on the 
29th day of December, (that portion of the insurgent army 
wno had been watching and annoying us having left to join 

Stockton's report. 


the main body,) with about six hundred fighting men, com- 
posed of the detachment from the ships, aided by General 
Kearney with a detachment of sixty men on foot, from the 
first regiment of United States' dragoons, and by Capt. Gil- 
lespie with sixty mounted riflemen. 

We marched nearly one hundred and forty miles in ten 
days, and found the rebels on the 8th day of January in a 
strong position on the high bank of the river San Gabriel, 
with six hundred mounted men and four pieces of artillery, 
prepared to dispute our passage across the river. 

We waded through the water, dragging our guns after us, 
against the galling fire of the enemy, without exchanging a 
shot, until we reached the opposite shore, when the fight 
became general, and our troops having repelled a charge of 
the enemy, charged up the bank in a most gallant manner, 
and gained a complete victory over the insurgent army. 

The next day on our march across the plains of the Mesa 
to this place, the insurgents made another desperate effort 
to save the capital and their own necks. They were con- 
cealed with their artillery in a ravine until we came within 
gun-shot, when they opened a brisk fire from their field- 
pieces on our right flank, and at the same time charged on 
our front and rear. We soon silenced their guns and 
repelled the charge, when they fled, and permitted us the 
next morning to march into town without any further oppo- 

We have rescued the country from the hands of the in- 
surgents, but I fear the absence of Col. Fremont's battalion 
of mounted riflemen will enable most of the Mexican offi- 
cers, who have broken their parole, to escape to Sonora. 

I am happy to say that our loss in killed and wounded 
does not exceed twenty, whilst we are informed that the 
enemy has lost between seventy and eighty. 

This dispatch must go immediately, and I will wait an- 
other opportunity to furnish you with the details of these 


Doniphan's expedition. 

two battles, and the gallant conduct of the officers and men 
under my command, with their names. 

Faithfully your obedient servant, 

R. F. Stockton, Com., &c. 
To the Hon. George Bancroft, Secretary of the Navy, 
Washington D. C. 

Head Quarters Ciudad de los Angeles, } 
January 15th, 1847. 5 

Sir : I have the honor to inform you of the arrival of 
Lieutenant-colonel Fremont at this place, with four hundred 
men — that some of the insurgents have made their escape 
to Sonora, and that the rest have surrendered to our arms. 

Immediately after the battles on the 8th and 9th, they 
began to disperse ; and I am sorry to say that their leader 
Jose Ma. Flores, made his escape, and that the others have 
been pardoned by a capitulation agreed upon by Lieutenant- 
colonel Fremont. 

Jose Ma. Flores, the commander of the insurgent forces, 
two or three days previous to the 8th, sent two commis- 
sioners with a flag of truce to my camp to make " a treaty 
of peace. " I informed the commissioners that I could not 
recognise Jose Ma. Flores,, who had broken his parole as 
an honorable man, or as one having any rightful authority, 
or worthy to be treated with — that he was a rebel in arms, 
and if I caught him I would have him shot. It seems that 
not being able to negotiate with me, and having lost the bat- 
tles of the 8th and 9th, they met Col. Fremont on the 12th 
inst., on his way here, who, not knowing what had occurred, 
entered into the capitulation with them, which I now send 
you ; and, although I refused to do it myself, still I have 
thought it best to approve it. 

The territory of California is again tranquil, and the civil 
government formed by me is again in operation in the places 
where it was interrupted by the insurgents. 

Col. Fremont has four hundred men in his battalion, 



which will be quite sufficient to preserve the peace of the 
territory; and I will immediately withdraw my sailors and 
marines, and sail as soon as possible for the coast of Mexico, 
where I hope they will give a good account of themselves. 
Faithfully, your obedient servant, 

R. F. Stockton, Commodore, &c. 
To the Hon. George Bancroft, Secretary of the Navy, 
Washington, D. C. 


Know ye, that in consequence of propositions of peace 
or cessation of hostilities being submitted to me, as a com- 
mandant of the California battalion of United States' forces, 
which has so far been acceded to by me, as to cause me to 
appoint a board of commissioners to confer with a similar 
board appointed by the Californians ; and it requiring a little 
time to close the negotiations, it is agreed upon and or- 
dered that an entire cessation of hostilities shall take place 
until to-morrow afternoon, (January 13th) and that the said 
Californians be permitted to bring in their wounded to the 
mission of San Fernandez, where also, if they choose, they 
can remove their camp, to facilitate said negotiations. 

Given under my hand and seal, this 12th day of Janu- 
ary, 1847. J. C. Fremont, 

Lieut-col. U. S. Army, and Milit. Com. of California. 

The commissioners appointed on the part of Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Fremont, to settle the terms of the 
capitulation, were Major P. B. Reading, L. McLane, 
and W. H. Russell, formerly of Missouri. Those se- 
lected by Andres Pico, were J. A. Carrillo, and A. 
Olvera. The first article of this capitulation required 
the insurgents to deliver up to Lieutenant-colonel Fre- 
mont their artillery and public arms, and peaceably 
return to their homes, yield obedience to the laws of 
the United States, and not again take up arms during 


doniphan's expedition. 

the continuance of the war. They were also required 
to aid in preserving tranquillity throughout California. 
In the second article the American commissioners 
guarantied to the insurgents protection of life and 
property, whether on parole or otherwise, immediately 
upon their complying with the conditions of the first 
article. The remaining articles were unimportant. 

The revolution of Flores was now crushed; the 
insurgents had taken refuge in the deserts and moun- 
tains, or dispersed to their several homes; the Amer- 
ican flag was again hoisted in every part of the prov- 
ince; and general peace and quietude once more 



Gfn. Kearney and W. P. Hall — Lieutenant-colonel Cooke— 
The Mormon Battalion— Lieutenant Abert — San Bernadino 
destroyed by Apaches-— The glazed plain — Arrival in Teuson 
— The honest Pimo chief — Arrival at San Diego—Commo- 
dore Shubrick — General Kearney proceeds to Monterey — 
Governor Fremont— General Kearney and Governor Fre- 
mont — California — Its present state — General Kearney's re- 
turn to the United States. 

Having settled the affairs of the government at 
Angeles, and restored the supremacy of the laws 
wherein they had been interrupted by the insurrec- 
tionists, General Kearney and Commodore Stockton 
hastily returned to San Diego, where they arrived 
about the 23d of the same month: the former march- 
ing his dismounted dragoons by land, and the latter 
conducting his marine forces to San Pedro, and sailing 
thence for the port of San Diego. 

Jt was on this return march that General Kearney, 
dismounting, walked one hundred and forty-five miles 
with the common soldiers, covered with dust and 
sweat, having placed on his horse one of the sick 
men, whose feet were worn and blistered, and who, 
from exhaustion, was unable to proceed farther. 

About this time the gallant Willard P. Hall, of 
the Missouri volunteers, Col. Doniphan's regiment, 
and member elect to Congress, came up, met General 
Kearney in the road, and reported to him the near ap- 
proach to California of the Mormon battalion under 

( 243 ) 


Doniphan's expedition. 

command of Lieutenant-colonel Cooke. Hereupon 
Mr. Hall, seeing the general toiling in the dust with 
the common soldiers, generously offered him his 
charger, observing, " General ! take my horse and 
ride ; I am younger than you, and will walk." The 
general refused, saying, "No, I thank you; I am a 
soldier, and can walk better than you, as I am accus- 
tomed to it." 

On the 15th of November, 1846, a small detach- 
ment of forty-five volunteers commanded by Captains 
Burrows and Thompson, met and totally defeated two 
hundred Californians on the plains of Salinas, near 
Monterey, with considerable slaughter. The loss on 
the side of the Americans was four killed, and two 
wounded : among the former were Captain Burrows 
and private Ames, of St. Louis, Missouri. About the 
25th of January, 1847, and shortly after the return of 
the troops from Angeles to San Diego, Captain Emo- 
ry, of the topographical corps, assistant acting adju- 
tant general to the overland expedition, after the death 
of Captain Johnston, sailed as bearer of dispatches 
from General Kearney to Washington city, passing by 
the isthmus of Panama. 

It will be remembered that the Mormons had not 
arrived at Santa Fe when General Kearney took his 
departure thence for California. Arriving shortly af- 
terwards, however. Captain Cooke was dispatched 
from the Del Norte, below Soccorro, by General 
Kearney, to conduct them, as their lieutenant-colonel, 
to their destination on the Pacific coast, in place of 
Captain Allen, who died at Fort Leavenworth. Their 
outfit being in readiness, they left Santa Fe and com- 
menced their march on Sunday, the 18th day of Oc- 

cooke's march. 


tober, 1846, following the route of General Kearney 
down the Rio Del Norte to a point twenty-five miles 
below the Jornada mountain, where they struck off 
westerly over the southern spurs of the Sierra de los 
Mimbres. Lieutenant-colonel Cooke, perceiving that 
these spurs terminated abruptly, and that a broad plain 
spread out to the southward of them, very rightly con- 
jectured that there might be found a pass from the 
Del Norte to the Gila, without encountering a single 
mountain. He, therefore, directed his course about 
sixty miles further south than that of General Kear- 
ney, thence striking out across the high plain, border- 
ed by the precipitous points of the Sierras, out of 
which flowed cool streams of delicious water. These 
streams, issuing from the mountains, run down upon 
and fertilize the plain, and lose themselves in the 
sand, not far distant. 

Before leaving the Del Norte valley, Lieutenant- 
colonel Cooke sent a part of his baggage train, and 
all the sick Mormons back to Fort Pueblo, on the 
Arkansas, above Fort Bent, at which place a large 
number of Mormon families were collecting, with the 
view of emigrating to California early in the spring of 
1847. Accordingly, an emigration of not less than 
nine hundred Mormon families started from this, and 
other points, including the Council Bluffs, and are now 
on their way thither. 

Also Lieutenant Abert, of the topographical corps, 
with a small party, returned to the United States about 
the same time, passing the plains in the inclement 
season of winter. Being caught in a snow storm about 
the 20th of February, which continued without inter- 
mission for thirty-six hours, some of his men froze to 


doniphan's expedition. 

death, and the Pawnees robbed him of all his mules 
and other animals. 

Lieutenant-colonel Cooke, with his troops, now 
prosecuted his march over the high plain, through an 
aperture in the great Cordilleras, finding generally 
water and pasturage, and meeting with no opposition 
on his way. He passed the deserted village, San Ber- 
nadino, which had once been very rich in cattle and 
other herds, but was now entirely abandoned on ac- 
count of the frequent and desolating incursions of the 
Apaches. Thence he passed over to the San Pedro 
river, down which he continued his march for sixty 
miles. Thence strikingoff, he passed through Teuson, 
and arrived at the Gila, intersecting Gen. Kearney's 
route at the Pimo settlement. 

On a certain occasion, the guides desired Lieuten- 
ant-colonel Cooke to march from the Ojo Vacca to 
Yanos in Chihuahua. This at first he assented to, but 
finding that the route urged by his guides led him too 
far south, he struck directly west, and found water 
after a march of twelve miles. The next day, he 
marched south-westerly, and encamped at night with- 
out water. At daybreak on the morning following, 
his command was again in motion, and after marching 
about twenty-five miles arrived at a plain destitute of 
grass or other vegetation, and as smooth and hard as 
polished marble; upon which, neither the nails of the 
shod animals, nor the iron tires of the loaded wagons, 
produced the slightest impression ; extending forty or 
fifty miles from north to south, and two or three miles 
wide. Immediately after crossing this hard plain, 
(resembling the dry bed of a lake) in its narrowest 
direction, the party came upon springs furnishing an 


abundance of cool and delightful water. Here they 
all rejoiced and took rest. 

On another occasion, when Lieutenant-colonel Cooke 
and his party were encamped within about six miles 
of the little town of Teuson, in the State of Sonora, 
where one hundred and fifty dragoons and two pieces 
of artillery had been stationed ; the commandante hav- 
ing express orders from the governor not to permit 
their passage, three commissioners were sent into 
camp, to inquire into Col. Cooke's business and in- 
tentions, and to ask what terms he would exact ot 
them in passing through the place. The commission- 
ers also entreated him not to pass through the town, 
but to turn aside and march in some other direction, 
assuring him that he could do so with impunity, and 
without molestation. He, however, told them that 
he would require of the commandante one piece of 
artillery and certain small arms, and the submission 
of the place ; the arms and cannon to be restored to 
them upon his departure. The commissioners then 

The next morning the Lieutenant-colonel, with his 
troops drawn up in order of battle, marched directly to- 
wards the town. Upon approaching it, he was met by 
a messenger who said: "Sir, your terms are hard, 
and such as the commandante never can and never will 
accede to." Whereupon the messenger returned 
Col. Cooke now passed the order down the lines to 
" load." However, the men did not load their pieces, 
for very soon a great dust was seen to rise beyond the 
town, and a body of horsemen at a distance scamper- 
ing off across the plain with the utmost expedition, 
leaving behind only such as were too old and helpless 


doniphan's expedition. 

to effect their escape by flight. The men now entered 
the place, where they found an abundance of wheat 
for their animals, and some fruit and provisions to 
satisfy their keen appetites. Therefore all now fared 
well. Then they resumed the march. 

Upon arriving at the Pimo villages or settlements, 
the chief of this honest and simple race of people de- 
livered to Lieutenant-colonel Cooke a letter and a 
bale of Indian goods, which Gen. Kearney had left 
in his charge for that purpose. He also delivered to 1 
him twenty-two mules, which, having failed, General 
Kearney had abandoned at different places. The Pi- 
mo Indians had collected these together, knowing that 
Cooke's forces were to pass that way. — This is a re- 
markable instance of the honesty and good faith of the 
Pimos, a very peculiar and interesting race of people. 
" The Sonorans," said the honest chief, "have en- 
deavored several times to prevail on me, both by 
promises and threats, to deliver this property up to 
them, but I would let nobody have it except my 
friend Gen. Kearney, or some of his people." Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Cooke commended him for his strict 
honesty and integrity, and told him that in acting thus 
he would always enjoy the friendship and good opin- 
ion of the Americans. They then separated. 

Now falling into Gen. Kearney's trail they marched 
down the Gila, crossed the Colorado below the con- 
fluence of the two rivers, proceeded through the Jornada 
of ninety miles in extent, and arrived at San Diego 
about the close of January 1847, as already related 
Meanwhile Commodore Shubrick arrived at Monterey 
on the 15th of January, on board the Independence, 



and superceded Commodore Stockton in command of 
the Pacific squadron, and the coast of California. 

Gen. Kearney* with Capt. Turner, and Lieut. War- 
ner of the topographical corps, on the 2d of February 
went aboard the war-vessel, Cyane, and proceeded 
directly to Monterey, leaving the Mormons at San 
Diego, and Lieutenant-colonel Fremont in command 
of the California battalion at the Pueblo de los Ange- 
les, as temporary governor of the country, acting un- 
der appointment from Commodore Stockton ; Angeles 
now being considered the capital, and seat of the new 

Upon his arrival at Monterey, Gen. Kearney waited 
upon Commodore Shubrick, then in command of the 
fleet in the bay, and let him know his instructions 
from the War Department, and the extent of his au- 
thority. Commodore Shubrick, and subsequently 
Commodore Biddle, most heartily and cordially co- 
operated with Gen. Kearney in carrying out his in- 
structions. Thus harmony existed between the land 
and naval forces. Gen. Kearney, for certain reasons,! 
however, refused to organize for the people of Cali- 
fornia a civil government, similar to that which he had 
previously provided for the inhabitants of New Mexico, 
as his instructions permitted him. 

# About this time Major Swords, quartermaster, was dispatched 
on board a public vessel, to the Sandwich Islands, to purchase a 
supply of provisions for the army, there being no supplies in 

f These reasons were, perhaps, the dissatisfaction that exisi- 
ed among the Americans who had emigrated to California ; the 
acts of Commodore Stockton being partially in force ; and the 
personal responsibility the work would involve. 

Doniphan's expedition. 

On the 1st of March, 1847, Gen. Kearney assumed 
the reins of the civil government, (Commodore Shub- 
rick being in command of the naval forces) and on the 
same day issued the following proclamation to the in- 
habitants of California : 

gen. Kearney's proclamation to the people of 

The President of the United States having devolved on 
the undersigned the civil government of California, he enters 
upon the discharge of his duties with an ardent desire to 
promote as far as possible the interests of the country and 
well being of its inhabitants. 

The undersigned is instructed by the President to respect 
and protect the religious institutions of California, to take 
care that the religious rights of its inhabitants are secured in 
the most ample manner, since the constitution of the United 
States allows to every individual the privilege of worship- 
ping his Creator, in whatever manner his conscience may 

The undersigned is also instructed to protect the persons 
and property of peaceable inhabitants of the country, against 
each and every enemy, whether foreign or domestic ; and 
now assuring the Californians that his inclinations no less 
than his duty demand the fulfillment of these instructions, he 
invites them to use their best efforts to preserve order and 
tranquillity, to promote harmony and concord, and to main- 
tain the authority and efficacy of the laws. 

It is the desire and intention of the United States to pro- 
cure for California as speedily as possible a free government 
like that of their own territories, and they will very soon in- 
vite the inhabitants to exercise the rights of free citizens in 
the choice of their own representatives, who may enact such 
laws as they deem best adapted to their interests and well 
being. But until this takes place, the laws actually in exist- 
ence, which are not repugnant to the constitution of the 

Kearney's proclamation. 


United States, will continue in force until they are revoked 
by competent authority ; and persons in the exercise of em- 
ployments will for the present remain in them, provided they 
swear to maintain the said constitution and faithfully dis- 
charge their duties. 

The undersigned, by these presents, absolves all the inhab- 
itants of California from any further allegiance to the repub- 
lic of Mexico, and regards them as citizens of the United 
States. Those who remain quiet and peaceable will be pro- 
tected in their rights ; but should any take up arms against 
the government of this territory, or join such as do, or in- 
stigate others to do so — all these he will regard as enemies, 
and they will be treated as such. 

When Mexico involved the United States in war, the latter 
had not time to invite the Californians to join their standard 
as friends, but found themselves compelled to take posses- 
sion of the country, to prevent its falling into the hands of 
some European power. In doing this, there is no doubt that 
some excesses, some unauthorized acts, were committed by 
persons in the service the United States, and that in conse- 
quence, some of the inhabitants have sustained losses in 
their property. These losses shall be duly investigated, 
and those entitled to indemnification shall receive it. 

For many years California has suffered great domestic 
convulsions ; from civil wars, like poisoned fountains, have 
flowed calamity and pestilence over this beautiful region. — 
These fountains are now dried up ; the stars and stripes now 
float over California, and as long as the sun shall 
shed its light they will continue to wave over her, and over 
the natives of the country, and over those who shall seek 
a domicile in her bosom ; and under the protection of this 
flag agriculture must advance, and the arts and sciences will 
flourish like seed in a rich and fertile soil. 

Americans and Californians! from henceforth one people. 
Let us then indulge one desire, one hope ; let that be for 
the peace and tranquillity of our country. Let us unite like 


doniphan's expedition. 

brothers, and mutually strive for the improvement and ad- 
vancement of this our beautiful country, which within a short 
period cannot fail to be not only beautiful but also prosper- 
ous and happy. 

Given at Monterey, capital of California, this 1st day of 
March, in the year of our Lord, 1847, and of the Inde- 
pendence of the United States the seventy-first. 

S. W. KEARNEY, Brig. Gen. U. S. A. 
and Governor of California. 

Gen. Kearney now sent orders to Lieutenant-colo- 
nel Fremont, at Angeles, requiring him to muster his 
men into the United States' service, regularly, and 
agreeably to law, and repair with them to Monterey, 
where they could be mustered for discharge and pay- 
ment, and also to bring with him the archives of the 
State, and other documents and papers. At the same 
time he also sent an order to Lieutenant-colonel Cooke, 
to march with a part of his Mormon force from San 
Louis Rey to Angeles, and relieve Lieutenant-colonel 
Fremont. The California volunteers refused to be 
mustered into service as required, and therefore Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Fremont could not obey the orders of 
Gen. Kearney. Towards the close of March, Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Fremont, unattended, left Angeles and 
repaired to Monterey. Here he had an interview with 
Gen. Kearney ; who, in a short time ordered him back 
to Angeles to transact certain business, important to 
be accomplished before their returning to the United 
States. Fremont being delayed in the execution of 
this work, Gen. Kearney, accompanied by Mr. Hall, 
of Doniphan's regiment, started for the Pueblo, where 
they arrived on the 12th of May. The general, Mr, 
Hall, Lieutenant-colonel Fremont, and others, now 

col. stevenson's regiment. 


returned to Monterey, arriving there near the close of 
the month. 

Gen. Kearney, the lawgiver and land-traveler, 
having completed the work assigned him by his gov- 
ernment, and being now on the eve of departing to 
the United States, disposed his forces in a manner to 
preserve entire submission and tranquillity in the coun- 
try. The Mormons, whose term of service would 
expire on the 16th of July, were stationed at San 
Diego, San Louis Rey, and Angeles. Col. Steven- 
son, with two companies of his regiment, and one 
company of the 1st dragoons under Capt. Smith, were 
also posted at Angeles. One company of Col. Ste- 
venson's regiment and one of light artillery under Capt. 
Tompkins, were retained as a garrison in Monterey. 

Four companies of the New York regiment, under 
Lieutenant-colonel Burton, were garrisoning Santa 
Barbara ; of which force, however, a squadron of 
two companies under command of Lieutenant-colonel 
Burton were ordered to proceed by sea to Lower Cali- 
fornia, where they would disembark at La Paz, hoist 
the American flag, and take possession of the country. 
Of this regiment also, one company under Captain 
Nagle, would remain in the San Joaquin valley; a de- 
tachment of thirty men would stay at Sutter's settle- 
ment; and the remainder, under Major Hardy, would 
garrison the town of San Francisco. 

Commodore Biddle having returned from China, on 
the 2d of March assumed the chief command ot the 
naval forces, on board the Columbus. Com. Shubrick 
with the Independence and Cyane, had been ordered 
to sail down the coast, and blockade the ports of Guy- 
mas and Mazatlan. Col. R. B. Mason, of the 1st 


doniphan 5 s expedition. 

dragoons, who was sent out by the government for the 
purpose, was left commander-in-chief of all the land 
forces, and ex-officio governor of California. There- 
fore, on the 31st of May Gen. Kearney took his de- 
parture from Monterey, and, in company with Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Cooke, Major Swords, Capt. Turner, 
and Lieut. Radford of the navy; also Lieutenant- 
colonel Fremont, the Hon. Willard P. Hall, assistant 
surgeon Sanderson, and thirteen of the Mormon bat- 
talion, and nineteen of Lieutenant-colonel Fremont's 
topographical party, making an aggregate of forty men, 
returned to the United States by way of the Southern 
Pass, and arrived at Fort Leavenworth on the 22d* of 
August following, having twice crossed the continent. 
On the 21st of June this party passed the main ridge 
of the Sierra Nevada, riding thirty-five miles, chiefly 
over snow from five to twenty-five feet deep, under 
which water was running, and in many places in great 
torrents. Near the great Salt Lake, Gen. Kearney 
and escort humanely gathered up and buried the bones 
of the emigrant party, who so miserably and wretch- 
edly perished of cold and hunger during the winter 
of 1846. Gen. Kearney immediately repaired to 
Washington, whence he will proceed to southern 
Mexico and join Gen. Scott's division of the army. 
Thus terminated the overland expedition to California, 
which scarcely meets with a parallel in the annals of 

* Gen. Kearney arrested Col. Fremont on their arrival at 
Fort Leavenworth, August 22d. The trial is now in progress 
at Washington. Commodore Stockton and suite left the set- 
tlements of California on the 19th of July, and, by the overland 
route, arrived at St. Joseph in October. 


Concentration of the forces at Valverde— Mitchell's Escort — 
Passage of the great "Jornada del Muerto"— Arrival at Don- 
anna — Frank Smith and the Mexicans— Battle of Brazito— 
The Piratical Flag — Doniphan's Order — Burial of the Dead 
■—False Alarm — Surrender of El Paso — Release of American 

Col. Doniphan, upon his return from the Navajo 
country, dispatched Lieut. Hinton from Soccorro to 
Santa Fe, with orders to Col. Price, commanding the 
forces at the capital, to send him ten pieces of cannon, 
and one hundred and twenty-five artillerymen. Col. 
Doniphan especially requested that he would send 
Capt. Weightman's company of light artillery, leaving 
it discretionary with Major Clark whether he would 
remain at Santa Fe, or accompany the expedition 
against Chihuahua. He chose the latter. 

The camp at Valverde* was made the place of ren- 
dezvous at which all the detachments and parcels of 
the regiment were to re-unite. In fact the regiment 
was to be re-organized. Lieut. De Courcy was appoin- 
ted adjutant in place of George M. Butler, who died at 
Cuvarro ; Sergeant-major Hinton resigned, and was 
elected lieutenant in De Courcy's stead ; and Palmer, 

* On the 17th of Decemb., at Valverde, private W. P. Johnson 
of Capt. Waldo's company, was honorably discharged from the 
service of the United States, and permitted to return home, to 
attend to the interests of his constituents, having been chosen a 
member of the Missouri legislature. 



Doniphan's expedition. 

a private, was appointed Sergeant-major. Also, sur- 
geon Penn, and assistant surgeon Vaughan, having 
previously resigned and returned to Missouri, T. M. 
Morton now became principal surgeon, and J. F. 
Morton and Dr. Moore, assistant surgeons. 

With indefatigable labor and exertion, Lieuts. James 
Lea, and Pope Gordon, assistant quartermaster and 
commissary, had procured an outfit, and a supply of 
provisions for the expedition. These they had al- 
ready at Valverde, or on the way thither, when the 
detachments returned from the campaign against the 
Navajos. The merchant trains had received permis- 
sion to advance slowly down the country, until the 
army should take up the line of march, when they 
were to fall in rear with the baggage and provision 
trains, that they might be the more conveniently 

About the 1st of November, Dr. Connelly, Doane, 
M'Manus, Valdez, and James M'Goffin, proceeded 
to El Paso, in advance of the army, and contrary to 
order, to ascertain upon what conditions their mer- 
chandize could be introduced through the custom 
house into the Chihuahua market. They were, im- 
mediately upon their arrival at El Paso, seized and 
conducted under an escort of twenty-six soldiers to the 
city of Chihuahua, where they remained in surveil- 
lance until liberated by the American army. 

While Col. Doniphan was yet in the mountains, 
Lieutenant- colonel Mitchell of the 2d regiment, and 
Capt. Thompson of the regular service, conceived the 
bold project of opening a communication between 
Santa Fe and Gen. Wool's army, at that time sup 
posed to be advancing upon Chihuahua. For this 


Mitchell's escort. 257 

purpose a volunteer company, consisting of one hun- 
dred and three men, raised from the different corps 
at Santa Fe, was organized under the name of the 
" Chihuahua Rangers" commanded by Capt. Hudson, 
and Lieuts. Todd, Sproule and Gibson. This force 
having advanced down the valley of the Del Norte 
some distance below Valverde, and hearing of a strong 
Mexican force near El Paso, durst not adventure 
further, but returned and joined Col. Doniphan's col- 
umn, which was then about being put in motion. 
All things were now ready for the march. 

Accordingly, for the sake of convenience, in march- 
ing over the " Jornada del Muerto," or Great Desert, 
which extends from Fray Christobal to Robledo, a 
distance of ninety miles, the colonel dispatched Ma- 
jor Gilpin in the direction of El Paso on the 14th of 
December, in command of a division of three hundred 
men ; on the 16th, he started Lieutenant-colonel Jaek- 
son with an additional force of two hundred ; and on 
the 19th he marched in person with the remainder of 
his command, including the provision and a part of 
the baggage trains. 

In passing this dreadful desert, which is emphati- 
cally the u Journey of the Dead," the men suffered 
much ; for the weather was now become extremely 
cold, and there was neither water to drink nor wood 
for fire. Hence it was not possible to prepare any 
thing to eat. The soldiers, fatigued with marching, 
faint with hunger, and benumbed by the piercing 
winds, straggled along the road at night, (for there 
was not much halting for repose,) setting fire to the 
dry bunches of grass and the stalks of the soap-plant, 
or palmilla, which would blaze up like a flash of pow- 

258 Doniphan's expedition. I 

der, and as quickly extinguish, leaving the men shiver- 
ing in the cold. For miles the road was most bril- 
liantly illuminated by sudden flashes of light, which 
lasted but for a moment, and then again all was dark. 
At length, towards midnight, the front of the column 
would halt for a little repose. The straggling parties 
would continue to arrive at all hours of the night. 
The guards were posted out, The men, without their 
suppers, lay upon the earth and rested. The team- 
sters were laboring incessantly, night and day, with 
their trains, to keep pace with the march of the army. 
By daydawn the reveille roused the tired soldier from 
his comfortless bed of gravel, and called him to re- 
sume the march, without taking breakfast ; for this 
could not be provided on the desert. Such was the 
march for more than three days over the Jornada del 

On the 22d, Col. Doniphan overtook the detach- 
ments under Lieutenant-colonel Jackson and Major 
Gilpin, near the little Mexican town, Donanna. Here r 
the soldiers found plenty of grain, and other forage 
for their animals, running streams of water, and an 
abundance of dried fruit, corn-meal, and sheep and 
cattle. These they purchased, Therefore, they soon 
forgot the sufferings and privations which they had 
experienced on the desert. Here they feasted and 

The army now encamped within the boundaries of 
the State of Chihuahua. The advanced detachments 
under Lieutenant-colonel Jackson and Major Gilpin, 
apprehending an attack from the Mexicans about the 
20th, had sent an express to Col. Doniphan, then on 
the desert, requesting him to quicken his march. 



Captain Reid, with his company, had proceeded about 
twelve miles below Doiianna for the purpose of mak- 
ing a reconnoissance, and of acting as a scout or ad- 
vance guard. While encamped in the outskirts of a 
forest, on a point of hills which command the Chi- 
huahua road, on the night of the 23d, one of his sen- 
tinels hailed to the Mexican spies, in the Spanish 
language. The spies, mistaking the sentinel for a 
friend, advanced very near. At length discovering 
their mistake, they wheeled to effect their escape by 
flight. The sentinel levelled his rifle-yager, and dis- 
charged the ball through the bodies of two of them. 
One of them tumbled from his horse, dead, after run- 
ning a few hundred yards, and the other at a greater 
distance. Their bodies were afterwards discovered. 
The sentinel was Frank Smith, of Saline. 

On the morning of the 24th, the whole command, 
including Lieutenant-colonel Mitchell's escort, and 
the entire merchant, provision, and baggage trains, 
moved off in the direction of El Paso, and, after a 
progress of fifteen miles, encamped on the river for 
water. The forage was only moderately good. 
Therefore the animals, which were not tethered, ram- 
bled and straggled far off into the adjacent bosquets 
and thickets, during the night. The w T eather was 

On the morning of the 25th of December, a brilliant 
sun rising above the Organic mountains to the east- 
ward, burst forth upon the world in all its effulgence. 
The little army, at this time not exceeding 800 strong, 
was comfortably encamped on the east bank of the 
Del Norte. The men felt frolicsome indeed. They 
sang the cheering song of Yankee Doodle, and Hail 


doniphan's expedition. 

Columbia. Many guns were fired in honor of Christ- 
mas day. But there was no need of all this, had thev 
known the sequel. 

At an early hour the colonel took up the line ol 
march, with a strong front and rear-guard. The reai 
guard, under Captain Moss, was delayed for a con 
siderable part of the day in bringing up the trains, ana 
the loose animals which had rambled off during the 
night. A great number of men were also straggling 
about in search of their lost stock. These were also 

While on the march the men most earnestly desired 
that, if they had to encounter the enemy at all, they 
might meet him this day. They were gratified: for 
having proceeded about eighteen miles, the colonel 
pitched his camp at a place called Brazito, or the 
Little Arm, on the east bank of the river, in an 
open, level, bottom prairie, bordered next the moun- 
tains and river, on the east and south-east, by a mez- 
quite and willow chapparal. Here the front guard had 
called a halt. 

While the men were scattered everywhere in quest 
of wood and water for cooking purposes, and fresh 
grass for their animals, and while the trains and strag- 
gling men were scattered along the road for miles in 
the rear, a cloud of dust, greater than usual, was ob- 
served in the direction of El Paso, and in less than 
fifteen minutes some one of the advance guard, com- 
ing at full speed, announced to the colonel "that the 
enemy was advancing upon him." It is said that 
Col. Doniphan, and several of his officers and men, 
were, at this moment engaged in playing a game of 
three-trick loo. At first he observed that the cloud of 



dust was perhaps produced by a gust of wind, and 
that they had as well play their hands out. In another 
moment the plumes and banners of the enemy were 
plainly in view. The colonel quickly sprang to his 
feet, threw down his cards, grasped his sabre, and 
observed, "Boys, I held an invincible hand, but I'll 
be d-n-d if I don't have to play it out in steel now." 
Every man flew to his post. Assembly call was 
blown. The men, dashing down their loads of wood 
and buckets of water, came running from all quarters, 
seized their arms, and fell into line under whatever 
flag was most convenient. As fast as those in the 
rear came up, they also fell into line under the near- 
est standards. The officers dashed from post to post, 
and in an incredibly short space of time the Missouri- 
ans were marshaled on the field of fight. 

By this time the Mexican general had drawn up his 
forces in front, and on the right and left flanks of 
Col. Doniphan's lines. Their strength was about 
one thousand three hundred men, consisting of five 
hundred and fourteen regular dragoons, an old and 
well known corps from Vera Cruz and Zacatecas, and 
eight hundred volunteers, cavalry and infantry, from 
El Paso and Chihuahua, and four pieces of artillery. 
They exhibited a most gallant and imposing appear- 
ance ; for the dragoons were dressed in a uniform of 
blue pantaloons, green coats trimmed with scarlet, 
and tall caps plated in front with brass, on the tops of 
which fantastically waved plumes of horse-hair, or 
buffalo's tail. Their bright lances and swords glitter- 
ed in the sheen of the sun. Thus marshaled, they 
paused for a moment. 

Meanwhile Col. Doniphan, and his field and com- 

262 doniphan's expedition. 

pany officers, appeared as calm and collected as when J 
on drill; and, in the most spirited manner, encouraged 
their men by the memory of their forefathers, by the 
past history of their country, by the recollection of the 
battle of Okeechobee, which was fought on the same 
day in 1837, and by every consideration which ren- 
ders life, liberty, and country valuable, to cherish no 
other thought than that of victory. 

Before the battle commenced, and while the two 
armies stood marshaled front to front, the Mexican 
commander, General Ponce de Leon, dispatched a 
lieutenant to Col. Doniphan, bearing a black flag. 
This messenger, coming with the speed of lightning, 
halted when within sixty yards of the American lines, 
and waved his ensign gracefully in salutation. Here- 
upon Col. Doniphan advancing towards him a little 
way, sent his interpreter, T. Caldwell, to know his 
demands. The ambassador said: — "The Mexican 
General summons your commander to appear before 
him." The interpreter replied: "If your General 
desires peace, let him come here. " The other re- 
joined: "Then we will break your ranks and take 
him there. " " Come then and take him, 55 retorted 
the interpreter. " Curses be upon you, — prepare for 
a charge, — we neither ask nor give quarters, " said 
the messenger ; and waving his black flag over his 
head, galloped back to the Mexican lines. 

At the sound of the trumpet the Vera Cruz dra- 
goons, who occupied the right of the enemy's line of 
battle, first made a bold charge upon the Americans' 
left. When within a few rods the yagermen opened 
a most deadly fire upon them, producing great execu- 
tion. At the same crisis, Captain Reid with a party 



of sixteen mounted men (for the rest were all on foot) 
charged upon them, broke through their ranks, hewed 
them to pieces with their sabres, and thereby con- 
tributed materially in throwing the enemy's right wing 
into confusion. A squad or section of dragoons, 
having flanked our left, now charged upon the com- 
missary and baggage trains, but the gallant wagoners 
opened upon them a well directed fire, which threw 
them into disorder, and caused three of their number 
to pay the forfeit of their lives. 

The Chihuahua infantry and cavalry were posted on 
their left, and consequently operated against our right 
wing. They advanced within gun-shot, and took 
shelter in the chaparral, discharging three full rounds 
upon our lines before we returned the fire. At this 
crisis Col. Doniphan ordered the men to " lie down on 
their faces, and reserve their fire until the Mexicans came 
within sixty paces " This was done. The Mexicans 
supposing they had wrought fearful execution in our 
ranks, as some were falling down, while others stood 
up, began now to advance, and exultingly cry out 
"bueno, bueno whereupon our whole right wing 
suddenly rising up, let fly such a galling volley of 
yager balls into their ranks, that they wheeled about 
and fled in the utmost confusion. 

By this time the Howard company, and others oc- 
cupying the centre, had repulsed the enemy with con- 
siderable loss, and taken possession of one piece of 
his artillery, and the corresponding ammunition. This 
was a brass, six-pound howitzer. Sergeant Calaway, 
and a few others of that company first gained posses- 
sion of this piece of cannon, cut the dead animals 
loose from it, and w r ere preparing to turn it upon the 


Doniphan's expedition. 

enemy, when Lieut. Kribben with a file of artillery- 
men, was ordered to man it.* 

The consternation now became general among the 
ranks of the Mexicans, and they commenced a pre- 
cipitate retreat along the base of the mountains. 
Many of them took refuge in the craggy fastnesses. 
They were pursued by the Americans about one mile; 
Capt. Reid, and Capt. Walton, who by this time had 
mounted a few of his men, following them still fur- 
ther. All now returned to camp, and congratulated 
one another on the achievement. The Mexican loss 
was seventy-one killed, five prisoners, and not less 
than one hundred and fifty wounded, among whom 
was their commanding officer, general Ponce de Leon. 
Also a considerable quantity of ammunition, baggage, 
wine, provisions, blankets, a great number of lances, 
some guns, and several stands of colors, were among 
the spoils. A number of horses were killed, and 
several were captured. The Americans had eight 
men wounded — none killed. In this engagement, 
Col. Doniphan, his officers and men, displayed the 
utmost courage, and determined resolution to conquer 
or perish in the conflict. Defeat would have been 
ruinous. Therefore all the companies vied with each 
other in endeavoring to render the country the most 
important service. The victory was complete on the 
part of the Americans. The battle continued about 
thirty minutes, and w T as fought about three o'clock 
P, M. on Christmas day, at Brazito, twenty-five 
miles from El Paso. 

Not more than five hundred of Col. Doniphan's 

* The other three pieces of artillery were not brought into 
the action. 


men were present when the battle commenced. The 
rest fell into line as they were able to reach the scene 
of action. Those who had been far in the rear during 
the day, when they heard the firing, came running in 
haste with their arms in their hands, to bring aid to 
their comrades, who were then engaged with the 
enemy. This created such a dust that the enemy 
supposed a strong reinforcement was marching to our 
support. This circumstance, also, contributed to strike 
terror into the Mexican ranks. 

By this defeat, the Mexican army was completely 
disorganized and dispersed. The volunteer troops 
returned with the utmost expedition to their respective 
homes; while the regular troops continued their flight 
to Chihuahua, scarcely halting for refreshment in El 
Paso. On the retreat many of the wounded died. 
Several were found dead by the road side, and the 
chaparral near the battle field was stained w 7 ith the 
blood of the retreating foe. The field w T as all trophied 
over with the spoils of the slain and the vanquished. 
Martial accoutrements, sacks and wallets of provisions, 
and gourds of the delicious wines of El Paso, were pro- 
fusely scattered over miles of surface. These sup- 
plied our soldiers with a Christmas banquet. The 
whole affair resembled a Christmas frolic. This night 
the men encamped on the same spot where they were, 
when attacked by the Mexicans. Having ate the bread 
and drank the wine which were taken in the engagement, 
they reposed on their arms, protected by a strong guard. 

On the following morning the dead were buried, 
and the w T ounded Mexican prisoners comfortably pro 
vided with means of conveyance to El Paso. Every 
needful attention was also given our own wounded by 


Doniphan's expedition. 

the surgeons. The column now, in perfect order, 
with the baggage, provision, hospital, ammunition, 
and merchant trains in the rear, and a strong rear and 
front guard, and a party of flankers on the right and 
left, moved cautiously in the direction of El Paso, ap- 
prehending another attack. After an advance of fif- 
teen miles, camp was selected near a small salt lake, 
where there was a moderate supply of natural forage, 
such as grass and rushes. From this point Col. Doni- 
phan sent back an express for the artillery to hasten 
forward, for he anticipated strenuous opposition at El 

While encamped here, one of the picket guard, dis- 
covering a party of Mexicans passing along the base 
of the mountains towards the east, in which they had 
taken shelter during the day, endeavoring to make 
good their retreat to El Paso, under covering of the 
night, fired upon them. This produced an alarm in 
camp. The men were cooking their suppers; some of 
them had spread their beds for repose. Col. Doni- 
phan ordered the fires to be extinguished. Whatever 
w T as in the vessels, on the fire cooking, was now turned 
topsy-turvy in the effort to put out the light. For a 
moment all was confusion. Quickly, however, Col. 
Doniphan drew up his men in line of battle, and 
awaited the approach of the enemy. Lieutenant-col- 
onel Jackson in the hurry to parade his men mounted 
his mule bare-back, with his sword and shot gun. 
Many of the men were in ranks barefoot, and only half 
clad ; for they had been roused from slumber. Finally 
no enemy appearing, the soldiers were ordered to re- 
pair to their tents, and sleep on their arms. They ran, 
leaping, and hallooing, and cursing the false alarm. 



Before day another false alarm called them out m a 
similar manner. Therefore, this night the soldiers 
were much vexed. 

The same order of march which had been adopted 
on the previous day was continued on the 27th, until 
the column reached El Paso. On arriving at the 
Great Pass, or gorge in the mountains, through which 
the river appears to have forced its way, debouching 
into the valley below, over a system of rocky falls, in 
dashing cataracts ; the colonel was met by a deputa- 
tion of citizens from El Paso, bearing a white flag, pro- 
posing terms of peace, and offering to surrender the 
place into his hands, beseeching at the same time that 
he would use his clemency towards them, in sparing 
their lives, and protecting their property. This the 
colonel was inclined to do. It was now about six 
miles to the city. All moved on, rejoicing in the 
prospect of rest, and something to appease the appe- 
tite. Thus on the 27th the city of El Paso* was pos- 
sessed by the American troops without further opposi- 
tion, or greater effusion of blood. It was now night. 
Therefore the soldiers encamped and enjoyed the ad- 
vantage of a little repose. 

The men, at first, were encamped on a bare spot of 
earth, south of the Plaza, where the wind drove the 

* "When you learn," observes an intelligent volunteer, "that 
this place is the key by which you enter New Mexico, you 
will see at once the importance of the place. All communica- 
tions passing from lower Mexico in the direction of Santa Fe, 
must necessarily pass through this place, or within a few miles 
of it. Is it not, therefore, most surprising that, with two thou- 
sand two hundred and forty fighting men in the town, besides 
the regular soldiers, five hundred and fourteen, who were sta- 
tioned there, they should have surrendered the place so easily V 9 


doniphan's expedition. 

sand furiously through the camp, dreadfully annoying 
both man and beast. In this comfortless situation, the 
soldiers remained for several days. At length, after 
great suffering from the driven sands, which filled the 
eyes, nostrils, and mouth to suffocation, the men were 
quartered in houses near the square. 

One of the first acts of Col. Doniphan, after taking 
possession of El Paso, was the liberating of three 
American citizens who, without crime, had been im- 
mured in a dungeon for five months and one day. 
Thus have Americans been deprived of their liberty 
in Mexico. Col. Doniphan was their deliverer. 

These three American citizens, Hudson, Pollard, 
and Hutchinson, had started from Van Buren in Ar- 
kansas, with the view of proceeding to Upper Califor- 
nia, where they intended settling, and arriving safely 
in Santa Fe, they agreed to hire Graham, a Scotchman, 
to pilot them through the mountains to San Diego. 
Having purchased an outfit at Santa Fe, they were 
conducted by Graham down the Del Norte to El Paso, 
who told them the best route led from that place to 
Guadaloupe Calvo, and thence, by San Bernadino, to 
the mouth of the Gila, whence they could easily ar- 
rive at San Diego. They followed their pilot. On 
reaching El Paso, however, Graham became intoxica- 
ted and informed against them, representing to the 
Prefecto of the place, that they were Texan spies ; 
whereupon they were apprehended and lodged in 
prison, where they lay until delivered by the American 


The Commissioners — Assessment of property — Search for arms 
— Proclamation of Governor Trias — The American merchants 
— Strength of the Pass — Captain Kirker — Kind treatment of 
the Pasenos — Resources of the valley of El Paso — Wolves — 
The Rebellion — Ramond Ortiz— The Apache Indians. 

On the morning of the 28th, three commissioners, 
deputed by the citizens of El Paso, came into the 
American camp to negociate more fully the terms of 
capitulation, and the nature of the peace which had 
been partially agreed upon the previous day. Col. 
Doniphan instructed them to publish to the inhabitants 
of the settlement of El Paso " that he did not come to 
plunder and ravage, but to offer them liberty ; that the 
lives and property of such as remained peaceable and 
neutral, during the existence of the war, would be 
fully and amply protected ; but such as neglected 
their industrial pursuits, and instigated other peaceable 
citizens to take up arms against the Americans, would 
be punished as they deserved." He also encouraged 
them to industry, and the prosecution of their daily 
labor, advising them to prepare a market wherein his 
soldiers might purchase such things as they needed, 
excepting spirituous liquors, the sale of which he in- 
terdicted. He further assured them "that his com- 
missary and quartermaster would purchase such 
supplies of provisions and forage, as his men and 
animals might require, and that the beautiful settle- 

( 271 ) 


doniphan's expedition. 


ment of El Paso should not be laid waste and de- 
stroyed by his soldiers." These things were done as 
Col. Doniphan promised. 

On the same day an assessment was made of all the 
corn, wheat, and provender, which could be found in 
the city, that the quartermaster might know whence 
to draw supplies in case the proprietors refused to 
sell to the American army. When this estimate had 
been completed, it appeared that there were several 
hundred thousand fanegas of corn and wheat, and a 
vast quantity of fodder and other forage for horses and 
mules.* Also a search for public arms, ammunition, 
and stores, was instituted, that if such things were 
found to abound, the army might not be in want of the 
means of defence, and also that the Mexicans, in case 
they attempted an insurrection, might not have in their 
power the means of prosecuting their designs with suc- 
cess, or of inflicting permanent injury upon our men. 
Therefore the field officers, captains, and lieuten- 
ants, with files of men went into all the houses, treat- 
ing the families with respect, and taking nothing save 
arms and other munitions of war — neither did they 
abuse any person. 

When this search was completed, it was discovered 

* Colonel Doniphan issued an order to the soldiers, forbidding 
them to take any property from the Mexicans, without paying 
its just equivalent to the owner. A waggish volunteer who 
was standing by, observed, " Colonel ! you don't care if 
we take mice {maize) do you ]" The colonel, not suspecting 
his motive, replied in the negative. The volunteer went away, 
and in a short time returned to camp with great quantities of 
corn for his horse and those of his companions ; for the Mexicans 
call corn, mice, i. e. maize. The colonel enjoyed the joke. 



that the colonel had come in possession of more than 
twenty thousand pounds of powder, lead, musket 
cartridge, cannon cartridge, and grape and cannister 
shot ; five hundred stands of small arms, four hundred 
lances, four pieces of cannon, several swivels and cul- 
verins, and several stands of colors. 

On the 30th, a body of cavalry under Major Gilpin 
and Captain Reid was sent to the Presidio del Ecleza- 
rio, twenty-two miles further down the river, for the 
purpose of making a reconnoissance. Here a strong 
body of Mexicans had been recently stationed, but 
abandoned the post, when Colonel Doniphan entered 
El Paso. Several wagon loads of ammunition, and 
one piece of cannon, were discovered cached, or bu- 
ried in the sand.* These also were afterwards 
sent for by the commander. This body of cavalry 
having returned, reported a strong Mexican force 
on its march from Chihuahua to recover El Paso 
from the hands of the Americans. So the army 
was not yet free from apprehension. The Ameri- 
cans now having complete possession of El Paso, 
and treating the inhabitants with great humanity, 
even those who fought against them under a black, 
piratical flag at Brazito, (for many of them were 
walking about town with bandages around their heads, 
and their arms in slings, and their other wounds bound 
up, which they had received in that action,) they in 
turn, generously and gratuitously supplied many of 
the soldiers with such things as they required to eat 
and drink, as though unwilling to be excelled in kind- 

* At this fort were also discovered a great number of bloody 
bandages; for the Mexicans who were wounded at Brazito had 
been conveyed thither to receive surgical attention. 

274 doniphan's expedition. 

ness. This is the character of the El Pasenos. The 
soldiers spent much of their time pleasantly feasting 
upon a variety of the best viands, and finest fruits, 
such as fresh pears, quinces, apples, oranges ; and 
dried pears, peaches, apples, and grapes which far 
excel the raisin for deliciousness of flavor. Besides 
these there was a great variety of sweet-meats in 
the market ; and also mezcal and pulque, and beer, 
and the richest wines. The soldiers enjoyed all these 
luxuries, after so much privation. 

Shortly after Colonel Doniphan's arrival at El Paso 
the proclamation of Angel Trias, governor of Chihua- 
hua, to the Mexican troops before the battle of Bra- 
zito, fell into his hands ; a copy of which, translated 
by Captain David Waldo, here follows : — 

" Soldiers : — The sacrilegious invaders of Mexico are 
approaching the city of El Paso, an important part of the 
State, where the enemy intend establishing their winter 
quarters, and even pretend that they will advance further 
into our territory. It is entirely necessary that you go — 
you defenders of the honor and glory of the republic, that 
you may give a lesson to these pirates. 

The State calculated much upon the aid that would be 
given by the valiant and war-worn citizens of the Pass ; but 
treason has sown there distrust, and the patriotic people, by 
a disgraceful mutiny, retreated at thirty leagues distance 
from a small force, under the command of General Kear- 
ney, when they might have taken him and his force prison- 
ers at discretion. Subordination and discipline were want- 

You go to re-establish the character of those Mexicans, 
and to chastise the enemy if he should dare to touch the 
soil of the State ; the State ennobled by the blood of the 
fathers of our independence. I confide in your courage, 



and alone I recommend to you obedience to your comman- 
ders and the most perfect discipline. 

All Chihuahua bum with the desire to go with you, be- 
cause they are all Mexicans, possessed of the warmest en- 
thusiasm and the purest patriotism. They will march to 
join you — at the first signal that the circumstances of the war 
demand re-inforcements they shall be forwarded, let it cost 
the State what it may. To the people of Chihuahua no 
sacrifice is reckoned when the honor of the republic is at 

The enthusiasm with which you march and the sanctity 
of your noble cause, are sure evidences of victory. Yes, 
you are led by the God of battles and your brows shall be 
crowned with laurels. Thus trusts your friend and com- 
panion, ANGEL TRIAS. 

Chihuahua, November 9th, 1846. " 

On the morning of the 1st of January, 1847, a great 
cloud of dust was seen rising in the direction of Chi- 
huahua, similar to that usually produced by the march 
of an army of cavalry. The picket guard came dash- 
ing in at full speed. Assembly was blown by the 
bugler. All apprehended an attack. The soldiers 
ran to their arms in great haste. The officers paraded 
their respective commands. The standards were dis- 
played. The men were drawn up in order of battle. 
The Mexican pieces of artillery, recently taken, and 
the howitzer captured at Brazito, were put into an 
attitude of defence by a file of men under Lieutenant 
Kribben. The men who had straggled from camp 
into town came running for their arms with the ut- 
most expedition. Colonel Doniphan, who now had 
his quarters in the town, also came running on foot 
with his holster-pistols swung across his left arm 3 


Doniphan's expedition. 

having his drawn sword in his right hand. Lieuten- 
ant-colonel Mitchell, with a small body of cavalry, 
galloped off in the direction of the rising dust, and, 
having made a reconnoissance, reported that the dust 
proceeded from an atajo of pack-mules and a train o{ 
Mexican caretas coming into town. This was another 
false alarm. The soldiers were now moved and 
quartered in houses, near the square, for better de- \ 
fence, both against the enemy and the high winds, 
which rage continually during the winter season, in 
that mountainous country. 

The merchants and sutlers, upon arriving at El 
Paso, hired rooms and storehouses, where they ex- 
hibited their goods and commodities for sale. Many 
of them sold largely to the inhabitants, whereby they 
considerably lightened their burdens. Certain of the 
merchants advanced Col. Doniphan sums of money, 
for the use of the commissary and quartermaster de- 
partments of the army, taking for their accommodation, 
checks on the United States' treasury. To a limited 
extent also they furnished some of the soldiers with 
clothing, and other necessaries. 

About the 5th* a lieutenant and a number of me- 
chanics were sent up to the falls to repair the grist- 
mills at that place. Large quantities of wheat were 
now ground, and the flour, unbolted, put up in sacks 

* Capts. Waldo, Kirker, Maclean, and a Mexican, went on a 
hunting excursion up the Del Norte river. They were absent 
eight or ten days, during which they had much sport. They 
chased several small parties of Mexicans, and visited the house 
of the friendly Mexican, whose son had volunteered to serve 
under Gen. Ponce at Brazito, and was unfortunately shot, while 
endeavoring to come over to the American lines, in that action. 



for the use of the army. For the present, therefore, 
the soldiers were bountifully supplied. 

Near the mills the Mexican army, a short time pre- 
vious to the battle of Brazito, had constructed a 
cordon or system of fieldworks extending from the 
mountains, and connecting with the river, on the west 
side, at the falls. Here, at first, it was proposed to 
give the " Northern Invaders" battle ; than which it 
is difficult to conceive a stronger position for defence; 
but Gen. Cuilta, chief in command at that time, being 
seized with an indisposition, Gen. Ponce led the 
troops to Brazito, where he suffered a total defeat. 
The next day Capt. Stephenson and about one hundred 
men, including some who had been left sick at 
Soccorro and Alburquerque, and had recovered, came 
up, escorting a large train of commissary wagons. 
This train had been ordered down from Santa Fe, 
when the troops came out of the Navajo country. 

The soldiers, (such of them as were not on duty at 
any time,) now engaged in various pastimes and 
amusements with the Pasefios; sometimes visiting and 
conversing with the fair Senoritas of the place, whose 
charms and unpurchased kindness, almost induced 
some of the men to wish not to return home ; and at 
other times, gleefully dancing at the fandango. When 
the weather was pleasant, the streets about the plaza 
were crowded with Mexicans, and American soldiers, 
engaged in betting at monte, chuck-luck, twenty-one, 
faro, or some other game at cards. This vice was 
carried to such an excess,, at one time, that Col. Doni- 
phan was compelled to forbid gambling on the streets, 
in order to clear them of obstruction. 

Capt James Kirker, who has gained so much ce- 


Doniphan's expedition. 

lebnty as an Indian fighter, and who for many years 
past has been successfully employed by the State of 
Chihuahua against the Apaches, hearing that the 
American forces were advancing upon El Paso, left 
his family at Coralitus, and hastened to join his coun- 
trymen, that he might show his fidelity and patriotism. 
This conduct of Capt. Kirker was no less unexpected, 
than it was terrifying, to the Chihuahuans. For he, 
who had so long been the terror of the Apaches, had 
now T joined with his countrymen to be henceforward 
equally the terror of the Chihuahuans. Capt. Kirker, 
on account of his great knowledge of the country, and 
acquaintance with the language and customs of the 
Mexican people, became, subsequently, of the most 
essential service to Col. Doniphan as an interpreter 
and forage master. He returned with the army to the 
United States. 

The universal kind treatment which the El Pasenos 
received from the Americans, not only induced them 
to think well of the conduct of the army, but disposed 
them favorably towards the American government; 
for they began to consider how much more liberty 
and happiness they might enjoy, having connection 
with this republic, than in their present state. They 
saw, also, that the Americans were not disposed to 
plunder; for being conquerors, they notwithstanding 
purchased of the conquered those things they wished 
to use, and forcibly took nothing. Nor would ihey 
permit the Apaches to kill and plunder the Mexican 
people. This pleased them, for they dread the Apa- 
ches. Besides, when a subaltern officer took provis- 
ions for his men, or forage for the animals, he gave the 
owner of the property an order on the quartermaster. 



Such order was always accepted, and promptly re- 
deemed. This, too, gave the Mexicans great confi- 
dence in the solvency and fairness of the American 

Now, there are a great many wolves, which come 
down from the neighboring mountains, into the suburbs 
of El Paso, and kill the flocks when not penned in 
their folds, and also feed upon the offal about the 
shambles and slaughter pens. They kept up a dolo- 
rous serenade during the nights, and in many instan- 
ces were so bold as almost to drive the sentinels from 
their posts. Oftentimes the sentinels were compelled 
to shoot them, in self-defence, as they would a prowl- 
ing enemy. This would usually create a false alarm. 

On one occasion several beeves had been slaughtered 
in a fold, or corral, for the use of the army. During 
the night the scent of the offal attracted the wolves. 
A considerable number of them coming down from 
their lairs among the rocks, leaped into the corral, and 
feasted sumptuously. The walls of the corral were 
many feet higher on the inside, than on the out- 
side, so, at day-dawn, when the wolves wished to 
retire, they could not repass the walls. The soldiers, 
therefore, in the morning, taking their sabres, went in 
amongst them, and, after much sport, killed them all. 
In such amusements did the soldiers delight. On a 
certain occasion while the army remained here, two 
sentinels, Tungitt and Clarkin, were found sleeping 
on their posts, and their guns taken from them by the 
officer of the guard. This is a capital offence. They 
were brought before Col. Doniphan, under arrest, who 
thus addressed them : " Gentlemen! you have com- 
mitted a very high offence against the laws of the 


Doniphan's expedition. 

country, and propriety. By your neglect you have 
exposed the lives of all. You have laid the whole 
camp liable to be surprised by the enemy. Are you 
not sensible of the enormity of these offences?" To 
which they replied in the affirmative: " But we were 
tired and exhausted, and could not preserve our wake- 
fulness — we will endeavor not to commit a similar of- 
fence in future. " " Then go, n says CoL Doniphan, 
" and hereafter be good soldiers, and faithful sentinels ; 
I will excuse you for the present. " They departed, 
and were never known to be in default again. 

About the 10th of January* we learned of the in- 
surrection which had been set on foot in New Mexico 
by Archulette, Chavez, Ortiz and others, and captured 
certain of their emissaries, endeavoring to instigate 
the inhabitants of El Paso to attempt the same there. 
This matter being timely detected and exposed at El 
Paso, by the vigilance of both officers and men, was 
crushed before the plan was matured. Also certain 
other Mexicans were detected, in secretly carrying 
on a correspondence with the troops at Chihuahua, 
whereby they were endeavoring to plot and work our 
destruction. Among these was Ramond Ortiz, the 
curate of El Paso, a very shrewd and intelligent man, 
and the same w T hom Kendall's graphic pen has im- 
mortalized. All of these were now held in custody 
under a strict guard. 

The time was now occupied in procuring a supply 
of provisions, and a suitable outfit for the contem- 

* About this time an American, his name Rodgers, escaped 
from Chihuahua, and reported to Col. Doniphan that Gen. Wool 
had abandoned his march upon that city, and that a formidable 
force was preparing to defend the place. 



plated march upon Chihuahua. Preparatory to this, 
also, and for the more perfect organization and better 
discipline of the troops, the intermediate time was 
consumed in regimental and company drills : in cav- 
alry charges, and sword exercises. These wholesome 
military exercises gave greater efficiency to the corps ; 
and it is due to the high-minded, honorable men, who 
composed this column, to bear testimony to the prompt 
and cheerful manner in which they performed every 
duty, and submitted to every burden, upon which they 
foresaw their safety, as an army, depended. Such 
was the spirit of the soldiers under command of Col. 

On the 18th, Capt. Hughes and Lieut, Jackson, 
with ten men w T ho had been left sick at Soccorro, and 
also a few days afterwards Lieuts. Lea, Gordon, and 
Hinton, who had been sent back to Santa Fe for pro- 
visions and the artillery, arrived at El Paso, and re- 
joined their companies. About this time, also, five 
intelligent young men, who fought bravely at Brazito, 
died of typhoid fever, and were buried, with the hon- 
ors of war, in the El Paso cemetery, f 

On the 25th, the author made the subjoined state- 
ments of the resources of the rich valley of El Paso 
to the War Department, after several weeks' careful 
observation, which was ordered to be printed: 

* On the 11th January, J. T. Crenshaw was appointed Ser- 
geant-major, vice Palmer, resigned. 

f These were James M. Finley, J. D. Leland, G. J. Hackly, 
J. Clark, and a Mr. Dyer. 

Peace to the shades of the virtuous brave, 
Who gallantly bore the perils of war; 
Who found an humble, yet honored grave 
From kindred, home, and country far, 



Doniphan's expedition. 

For the consideration of the War Department at Wash* 
ington City. 

The United States' forces under command of Col. Alex- 
ander W. Doniphan, took possession of the city of El 
Paso, in the Department of Chihuahua, on Sunday, the 
27th December, 1846; two days after the battle of Brazito, 
the strength of his command being about nine hundred men. 

My object, in this communication, is to give the War 
Department, and the country at large, some idea of the re- 
sources of the fruitful valley of El Paso, and of its impor- 
tance to the United States. The settlement of the El 
Paso extends from the Falls of the Rio Grande on the north, 
to the Presidio on the south, a distance of twenty -two miles, 
and is one continuous orchard and vineyard, embracing in 
its ample area, an industrious and peaceable population of at 
least eight thousand. This spacious valley is about mid- 
way between Santa Fe and Chihuahua, and is isolated from 
all other Mexican settlements by the mountains that rise on 
the east and west, and close into the river on the north and 
south. The breadth of the valley is about ten miles. The 
falls of the river are two miles north of the "plaza publi- 
ca," or public square, and affords sufficient water-power for 
grist and saw mills enough to supply the entire settlement 
with flour and lumber. 

The most important production of the valley is the grape, 
from which are annually manufactured not less than two 
hundred thousand gallons of perhaps the richest and best 
wine in the world. This wine is worth two dollars per 
gallon, and constitutes the principal revenue of the city. 
Thus the wines of El Paso alone, yield four hundred thou- 
sand dollars per annum. The El Paso wines are superior, 
in richness of flavor, and pleasantness of taste, to any thing 
of the kind I ever met with in the United States, and I doubt 
not that they are far superior to the best wines ever produced 
in the valley of the Rhine, or on the sunny hills of France. 

There is little or no rain in this elevated country, and 



hence the extraordinary sweetness and richness of the grape. 
Also quantities of the grape of this valley are dried in clus- 
ters, and preserved for use during the winter months. In 
this State I regard them as far superior to the best raisins 
that are imported into the United States from the West 
India Islands and other tropical climates. 

If this valley were cultivated by an energetic American 
population it would yield, perhaps, ten times the quantity 
of wine and fruits, at present produced. Were the whole- 
some influences and protection of our Republican Institu- 
tions extended to the Rio del Norte, an American population, 
possessing American feelings and speaking the American 
language, would soon spring up here. To facilitate the peo- 
pling of this valley by the Anglo American race, nothing 
would contribute so much as the opening of a communication 
between this rich valley and the Western States of our 
Union, by a turnpike, railroad, or some other thoroughfare 
which would afford a market for the fruits and wines of this 
river country. Perhaps the most feasible and economical 
though not the most direct plan of opening an outlet to the 
grape valley of the Rio Grande, would be the construction 
of a grand canal from this place, following the meanderings 
of the river to its highest navigable point. If a communi- 
cation by either of these routes were opened, this valley 
would soon become the seat of wealth, influence and refine- 
ment. It would become one of the richest and most 
fashionable parts of the continent. A communication between 
the valley of the Mississippi and that of the Rio del Norte, 
affording an easy method of exchanging the products of the 
one, for those of the other, will do more than any other 
cause to facilitate the westward march of civilization and 
republican government. It would be an act of charity to 
rid these people of their present governors, and throw around 
them the shield of American protection. 

That the idea of a canal following the course of the Del 
Norte, may not appear impracticable, it may not be amiss 


doniphan's expedition. 

to state that no country in the world is better adapted for 
the construction of canals than this valley. As the earth is 
sandy, canals are easily constructed ; but there is a kind of 
cement intermixed with the sand, that renders the banks of 
canals as firm as a wall. There is already a grand canal, 
or 44 acequia, " leading out from the river above the fails, 
extending through the entire length of the valley of El Paso, 
irrigating every farm and vineyard, thence to the Presidio, 
where it rejoins the river. 

Pears, peaches, apples, quinces and figs, are produced 
here in the greatest profusion. The climate of this country 
is most salubrious and healthful. The scenery is grand and 
picturesque beyond description. The inhabitants here 
suffer more from the depredations of the Apaches, than 
from any other cause. They are frequently robbed of all 
they possess, in one night, by the incursions of these law- 
less plunderers. A few companies of American dragoons 
would, however, soon drive them from their hiding places 
in the mountains, and put an end to their depredations. 

Add to the fruits and wines of this rich valley, a vast 
quantity of corn, wheat and other small grain, and the 
surplus productions of the place will, under its present state 
of agriculture, amount to near one million of dollars per 
annum. What then would be the amount of the surplus 
under the advantages of American agriculture ? The entire 
valley of the Del Norte, from Alburquerque to Chihuahua, 
a distance of five hundred miles in length, is as well adapted 
to the cultivation of the grape, as the particular valley adja- 
cent to El Paso. 

I have thought proper to make these suggestions to the 
War Department, as there is no corps of Field and Topo- 
graphical Engineers with this branch of the Western Army, 
whose duty it would have been to make such a report. 

Very respectfully, JOHN T. HUGHES. 

His Excellency, W. L. Marcy, Sec'y of War. 

El Paso, January 25th, 1847. 



The Apache Indians were continually making in- 
cursions from the mountains upon the settlements of 
El Paso, plundering and robbing whomsoever chanced 
to fall in their way, whether Mexican or American, and 
driving off large herds of mules and flocks of sheep. 
On one occasion they drove off two hundred and 
eighty mules belonging to Algea and Porus, Mexican 
merchants, traveling under the protection of the 
American army. They had previously driven off 
twenty yoke of oxen belonging to the commissary 
trains near the little town Donanna. And subse- 
quently, when the army was encamped about thirty- 
five miles below El Paso, they stole a parcel ot work 
oxen from Mr. Houke, an American trader, and made 
their escape with them to the mountains. The next 
morning, information of the fact was given, when Mr. 
Houke, Lieut. Hinton, and three other men pursued 
them, and, after a toilsome march of about sixty miles, 
overtook the villains, killed one of their number, re- 
covered the oxen, and returned to the army, 


Departure from El Paso — Doniphan's position — Ramond Ortiz 
— Two deserters — Battalion of merchants — Passage of the 
desert — The Ojo Caliente — Marksmanship — Lake of Encen- 
illas — Dreadful conflagration — Capt. Reid's adventure— The 
reconnoissance — Plan of the march — Battle of Sacramento — 
Surrender of Chihuahua. 

Col. Doniphan delayed at El Paso forty-two days, 
awaiting the arrival of the artillery, under Major Clark 
and Capt. Weightman, which he had ordered Colonel 
Price to forward him on the route to Chihuahua, im- 
mediately upon his return from the Indian campaign. 
Colonel Price, having his mind turned on quelling the 
conspiracy which had been plotted by Gen. Archulette, 
and fearing, if he should send the artillery away, that 
it would too much weaken his force, and embolden 
the conspirators, hesitated several weeks before he 
would comply with the order. At length, however, 
he dispatched Major Clark with one hundred and sev- 
enteen men, and six pieces of cannon, four six poun- 
ders, and two twelve pound howitzers ; which, after 
indefatigable exertion, and incessant toiling through the 
heavy snows, arrived at El Paso on the 1st of Feb- 

On the 8th, the whole army, the merchant, baggage, 
commissary, hospital, sutler, and ammunition trains, 
and all the stragglers, amateurs, and gentlemen of 
leisure, under flying colors, presenting the most mar- 




tial aspect, set out with buoyant hopes for the city of 
Chihuahua. There the soldiers expected to reap un- 
dying fame, — to gain a glorious victory — or perish on 
the field of honor. Nothing certain could be learned 
of the movements of Gen. Wool's column, which, at 
first, was destined to operate against Chihuahua. 
Col. Doniphan's orders were merely to report to Gen. 
Wool at that place, — not to invade the State. Vague 
and uncertain information had been obtained through 
the Mexicans, that Gen. Wool's advance had, at one 
time, reached Parras ; but that the whole column had 
suddenly deflected to the left, for some cause to them 
and us equally unknown. Thus was Col. Doniphan 
circumstanced. With an army less than one thousand 
strong, he was on his march, leading through inhos- 
pitable, sandy wastes, against a powerful city, which 
had been deemed of so much importance, by the gov- 
ernment, that General Wool with 3,500 men, and a 
heavy park of artillery, had been directed thither to 
effect its subjugation. What, then, must have been 
the feelings of Col. Doniphan and his men, when they 
saw the States of Chihuahua and Durango in arms to 
receive them, not the remotest prospect of succor from 
Gen. Wool, and intervening, and unpeopled deserts 
precluding the possibility of successful retreat? " Vic- 
tory or death, " were the two alternatives. Yet there 
was no faltering,— no pale faces, — no dismayed hearts. 
At this crisis, had Col. Doniphan inquired of his men 
what was to be done, the response would have been 
unanimously given, lead us on. But he needed not 
to make the inquiry, for he saw depicted in every 
countenance, the fixed resolve "to do or die." Col. 
Doniphan's responsibility was therefore very great. 


Doniphan's expedition. 

The undertaking was stupendous. His success was 
brilliant and unparalleled ! Who then will deny him 
the just meed of applause? 

A deep gloom enshrouded the State of Missouri. 
Being apprised of General Wool's movements, the 
people of the state were enabled to appreciate the full 
extent of the danger which threatened to overwhelm 
us. They saw our imminently perilous situation. 
They felt for the unsuccored army. The executive, 
himself, was moved with sympathy, and fearful appre- 
hension for its safety. But neither he nor the people 
could avert the coming storm, or convey timely warning 
to the commander of this forlorn hope. He had there- 
fore to rely upon steel and the courage of his men. 
The event is known. 

The colonel took with him Ramon<i Ortiz, Pino, and 
three other influential men of the malcontents, as hos- 
tages for the future good behavior of the inhabitants 
of El Paso. " By this means the safety of traders, and 
all other persons passing up and down the country, 
was guarantied ; for they were forewarned that if any 
depredations were committed upon citizens of the 
United States, at El Paso, they would be put to 

Since that time no outrage has been perpetrated, at 
El Paso, upon any American citizen. It was at El 
Paso that two American soldiers conceived for two 
fair, young Mexican girls, an affection so strong and 
ardent that they did not choose to march any further 
with the army. Having marched with their compa- 
nies one or two days, they deserted camp, at night, 
and returned to those they loved, and in a short time 
married them. 



On the evening of the 12th the column reached a 
point on the Del Norte, about, fifty miles below El 
Paso, where the road, turning to the right, strikes off 
at right angles with the river across the Jornada of 
sixty-five miles in extent, running through deep sand- 
drifts^ nearly the whole way. On this desert-track 
there is not one drop of water. Here, therefore, the 
command came to a halt, and tarried one day, that the 
men might prepare victuals, and such a supply of wa- 
ter, as they had means of conveying along w T ith them, 
for the desert journey. 

Col. Doniphan now called upon the merchant cara- 
van to meet and organize themselves into companies, 
and elect officers to command them. This he did that 
he might avail himself of their services, in the event 
that the troops, which he already had, should not 
prove sufficiently strong to cope with the enemy at 
Chihuahua. The merchants and the teamsters in 
their employ were quickly organized into two effective 
companies, under Capts. Skillman and Glasgow, form- 
ing a battalion commanded by Samuel C. Owens of 
Independence, whom they elected major. 

This was a very effective corps, for both the mer- 
chants and the teamsters were well armed, and were 
very brave men. Besides, having a large carjital 
invested in merchandize, they had the double incen- 
tive to 1 fight bravely, first for their property, and then 
for their lives. These numbered about one hundred 
and fifty well armed men. Here all the Mexican 
powder and other munitions of war, which the Colonel 
had taken at El Paso, and for which he had not the 
means of transportation, were destroyed. The powdei 


Doniphan's expedition. 

was burnt, and the cannister-shot and arms thrown into 
the river. 

A few days previous to this, Cufford and Gentry, a 
strong firm, the former an Englishman and the latter 
an American, both traveling with British passports, 
secretly and dishonorably abandoned the merchant 
caravan and, contrary to their promise to Col. Doni- 
phan, slipped off at night with forty-five wagons, and 
hastened onto Chihuahua, and from thence toZacatecas. 

Now, Harmony, a Spaniard, and Porus, a Mexican, 
fearing lest Doniphan might be defeated at Chihuahua* 
were loath to proceed with their wagons any farther, 
and desired to turn back to El Paso, and there make 
sale of their merchandize. This could not be per- 
mitted without endangering the safety of all ; for the 
only safety was in union. Therefore Lieutenant- 
colonel Mitchell, Capt. Reid, and Lieut. Choteau, with 
sixteen men, went back several miles to compel these 
men to bring up their trains. At first they pretended 
that the Apaches had stolen all their mules, wherefore 
they could not move their wagons. But being threaten- 
ed, they soon brought their animals from a place where 
they had purposely concealed them, that they might 
be permitted to remain. In a short time they were 
brought up, and forbid to leave the army again. 

While at this place, the author held a conversation 
with Ortiz, the curate, in regard to the project of M. 
Guizot "to preserve the balance of power" by placing 
the son of Louis Philippe or some other monarch on 
the "throne of Mexico." The curate observed: 
" Such an idea is too preposterous to deserve a 
serious consideration. The Mexicans and especially 
those in the northern states, would treat the proposition, 



if made to them seriously, with the indignation and 
contempt which it so richly merits. Mexicans not 
less than Americans, love liberty. Mexico would 
rather be conquered by a sister republic — rather lose 
her national existence, than submit to be governed 
by a f reign prince." 

Having buried two brave men, Maxwell and Wills, 
on the 14th the army bade adieu to the Great River of 
the North, and commenced its march upon the dread- 
ful desert. Some of the men, having no canteens or 
other means of carrying water, filled the sheaths of 
their sabres, and swung the naked blades jingling at 
their sides. C. F. Hughes, quartermaster-sergeant, 
had terrible work to force the trains along through the 
heavy sand-drifts. Oftentimes he was compelled to 
double his teams, and have a dozen or more men roll- 
ing at the wheels, to induce the wagons to move at 
all. The mules were weak and sunk up to their knees 
in the sand; the wagons stood buried almost to the 
hubs. Thus were they embarrassed. The teams could 
not move them. The soldiers and teamsters would 
often leap down from their horses and mules and roll 
the wagons along with their hands until they got where 
the sand was lighter. Thus it was all through the 
desert. After an arduous march of twenty miles, the 
army encamped upon the plain without wood or water. 
On the next day towards sunset the army passed 
through a gap or carion in a range of mountains which 
traverses the desert from north to south. This moun- 
tain shoots up abruptly from the plain into an in 
numerable set of knobs and rocky peaks consisting of 
dark, iron-colored, masses of basalt and pudding- 
stone, and in some cases of volcanic cinders. At this 


Doniphan's expedition. 

point^Lt. Gordon, and Collins, interpreter, with twelve 
other men,/fell in company with Kirker's scouting 
party, which had been in advance several days. 
Kirker's party consisted of eight men. The whole 
now, being twenty-three in number, under Lieut. Gor- 
don, proceeded far in advance of the army by direction 
from the colonel, for the purpose of making a recon- 
noissance at Carrizal, where they had understood a 
body of Mexicans were posted. This place is on the 
other side of the desert. Before their arrival there, 
however, the Mexican soldiery abandoned the place. 
Therefore they entered it and took military possession 
in the name of the United States' government ; the 
Alcalde, without offering the slightest resistance, giv- 
ing a written certificate of submission, in which he 
claimed the colonel's clemency and threw himself 
upon the generosity of the American army. He was 
not disappointed in receiving the amplest protection. 
By this time there w T as not a drop of water in the can- 
teens, and all were suffering extremely with thirst. 
At this hour one of the artillery-men came up from 
Santa Fe, having in possession the United States' mail ; 
the only one of consequence w r hich had been received 
for six months. Though at this crisis nothing could 
have been so refreshing to the body as cool water, 
yet newspapers and letters from home had a wonder- 
ful and talismanic influence on the mind. Not a 
w r ord, however, could be learned of the movements of 
the army of Gen. Wool. After a toilsome march of 
twenty-four miles, about midnight the column halted 
to allow the men arid animals a little rest. But they 
had no refreshment ; for the men again were obliged 
to spend the night without their suppers and without 



water. The animals also were nearly perishing of 
thirst. It was now still twenty-one miles to water; 
over a heavy sandy road, and the teams were already 
become feeble and broken down. Ortiz, the be- 
nevolent curate, although a prisoner, and under a 
strict guard, generously gave many of the soldiers 
a draught of water, which he had provided to be 
brought from the Del Norte in a water vessel. For 
this and other instances of kindness towards the 
author, he now makes his grateful acknowledgments. 

The next morning by day- dawn the army was on the 
march. The mules and horses were neighing and cry- 
ing piteously for water. Some of them were too weak 
to proceed farther. They were abandoned. Notwith- 
standing the eagerness of the men to get to water, a 
strong rear and front guard were detailed as usual, to 
prevent surprise by the enemy. Towards night, when 
the column had arrived within five miles of the Lagu- 
na de los Patos, the men could no longer be restrained 
in the lines, but in the greatest impatience hurried on in 
groups to quench their burning thirst. — The comman- 
der seeing this, and knowing how his men suffered, 
(for he too suffered equally with them) did not at- 
tempt to prevent it, but taking his whole force, has- 
tened on to the lake as quick as possible, that all might 
be satisfied ; having left an order for Capt. Parsons, 
who commanded the rear guard that day, to leave the 
trains, that his men might have water and rest. It was 
near sunset. Meanwhile the quartermaster-sergeant, 
and the resolute and hardy teamsters, had the task of 
a Hercules before them in bringing up the trains through 
the deep heavy sand drifts. Having arrived within 
about ten miles of the Laguna, they found it impossi- 


doniphan's expedition. 

ble to advance farther. The rear guard had left them 
with the view of getting water and then returning. 
They were sometimes compelled to quadruple the 
teams to move a wagon through the deep sand. The 
animals were dying of thirst and fatigue.— Thirty-six 
yoke of oxen had been turned loose. Two wagons 
were abandoned amidst the sand hills. Eight thou- 
sand pounds of flour and several barrels of salt had been 
thrown out upon the ground. Also some of the sutlers 
threw away their heavy commodities which they could 
not transport. The trains never could have proceeded 
ten miles farther. But the God who made the foun- 
tain leap from the rock to quench the thirst of the Is- 
raelitish army in the desert, now sent a cloud which 
hung upon the summits of the mountains to the right, 
and such a copious shower of rain descended, that the 
mountain-torrents came rushing and foaming down 
from the rocks and spread out upon the plains in such 
quantities, that both the men and the animals were 
filled. Therefore, they staid all night at this place 
where the God-send had blessed them, and being 
much refreshed, next morning passed out of the desert. 
All were now at Laguna de los Patos, where they staid 
one day to recruit and gain strength. This is a beau- 
tiful lake of fresh water. It was here that W.Tolley, 
a volunteer, who, as it is said, left a charming young 
bride at home, drank so excessively of the cool, re- 
freshing element after so many days of toil on the de- 
sert, that he soon died. He was buried near the mar- 
gin of the lake. Thus the army passed the desert 
sixty-five miles in extent. 

On the morning of the 18th, the column and trains 
were again in motion. C. F. Hughes, in considera- 



tion of the service he had rendered in passing the de- 
sert, was now relieved from further duty by Mr. Har- 
rison. To the right, at the distance of several miles 
from the Laguna, rises a stupendous, pyramidal rock, 
many thousand feet high. The existence of such ab- 
rupt, detached, masses of mountains, shows that the 
earth by some wonderful agency, has been convulsed 
and upheaved. Who will say that the flood, w T hich in- 
undated the Old World, may not have been produced 
by the sudden upheavement, and emergement of the 
Western Continent, from the ocean, by some All-pow- 
erful Agency ? A march of eighteen miles brought 
the army to Carrizal, where there was much cool and 
delightful w r ater, and where forage was obtained in 

At meridian on Sunday the 21st, the command 
reached the celebrated Ojo Caliente, or Warm Spring, 
where the men were again permitted to rest a few 
hours, and make preparations for crossing another 
desert forty-five miles wide without water. From 
this place Capt. Skillman, with twelve volunteers, was 
dispatched to the Laguna de Encenillas, to keep up a 
close espionage on the movements of the enemy ; for 
it was now anticipated that he would give battle at 
that place. The Ojo Caliente is at the base of a ledge 
of rocky hills, and furnishes a vast volume of water, 
about blood-warm, which runs off in the direction of 
the Patos. The basin of the spring is about one hun- 
dred and twenty feet long, and seventy-five wide, 
with an average depth of four feet. The bottom con- 
sists of sparkling, white sand, and the water is per- 
fectly transparent. No effort by disturbing the sand, 


doniphan's expedition. 

was sufficient to becloud, or muddy the crystal water.* 
Col. Doniphan, and many of his officers and men, now 
enjoyed the most luxurious, and rejuvinescent bathing. 
Thus refreshed, the march was commenced upon the 
desert. Having advanced twelve miles, the men 
were encamped on the plain, without wood or water, 
indispensable requisites for comfort in a military camp 
after a hard day's march. 

Continuing the march the next day a canon was 
passed in a high and craggy range of mountains, tra- 
versing the desert. These huge masses of basalt, 
which rise, in many places, two thousand feet almost 
perpendicularly, were capped with snow. Having 
completed twenty-two miles, the men halted for the 
night on a rocky, flinty spot of earth, where there was 
neither wood, water, nor grass. Nor was it possible 
for the men to have the least comfort, for it was ex- 
tremely cold. They tethered their animals, and, 
wrapping themselves up in their blankets, lay down 
on the earth without their suppers. 

The next day we marched twelve miles, and came 
to the * Guyagas springs. These issue in leaping, 
gushing, cool streamlets, out from the western base of 
a system of rocky bluffs, and refresh the neighboring 
plain. Here the men and animals slaked their burn- 
ing thirst. Under the jetting rocks and archways of 
this mountain range, were seen dependent spar, crystals 
of quartz, and the most brilliant stalactites. Here a 
drove of twelve or thirteen antelopes, which had been 

* This Ojo Caliente was formerly the seat of a princely Ha- 
cienda, belonging to Porus, a Spanish nabob, who at one time, 
had grazing on his pastures more than thirty-six thousand head 
of cattle and sheep. 



feeding on the sides of the cliffs, seeing the men 
marching, and the banners and guidons fluttering, 
were affrighted at the unusual sight, and came bound- 
ing down from the rocks, as though they would break 
through the ranks ; but as they neared the lines the 
men fired upon and killed them all while bounding 
along. They were used for food. This evidence of 
marksmanship struck the Mexican prisoners with as- 
tonishment, and caused them more than ever to dread 
the American rifles. Here in a narrow valley, with 
lofty, rocky ridges on either hand, the men were dis- 
mounted and allowed to rest for the night ; during 
which M. Robards, a good soldier, died and was bu- 

From thence they marched the next day fifteen 
miles, and again encamped on the plain, without 
wood or water. Here part of the spies returned and 
reported lhat there were seven hundred Mexicans at 
Encenillas with artillery. Early the following morn- 
ing, (which was the 25th,) Col. Doniphan drew up his 
forces in order of battle, and marched over to the 
north margin of the lake. Here he allowed his men 
a short respite, and some refreshment. This lake is 
about twenty miles long and three miles wide, and 
at the point where the army first encamped, there 
were near the margin white efflorescences of soda on 
the surface of the ground. Either this efflorescent 
soda, or the water of the lake, when put in flour, will 
quickly cause it to rise or leaven. It was used instead 
of saleratus. 

While nooning, the fire from some of the tents 
caught into the tall, dry grass, and by a high wind 
was furiously driven over the plain, threatening destruc- 


Doniphan's expedition. 

tion to everything before it. In a short time the fire 
which had broken out in a similar manner from the 
camp at the Guyagas springs, having almost kept pace 
with the army, came bursting and sweeping terribly 
over the summits of the mountains, and, descending 
into the valley, united with the fire on the margin of 
the lake. The conflagration, now roaring and crack- 
ling, irresistibly swept along. The flame rose in j 
dashing and bursting waves, twenty feet high, and 
threatened to devour the whole train. The army was 
now put upon the march, and the trains endeavored 
to advance before the flames ; but in vain, The wind 
blew steadily and powerfully in the direction the ar- 
my was marching. The conflagration, gaining new 
strength from every puflf of wind, came raging and 
sweeping like a wave. — The column of flame, dis- 
playing a front of many miles, steadily advanced 
along the margin of the lake. This was a more terri- 
ble foe than an u army with banners." — The fire now 
gained upon the trains. The ammunition wagons nar- 
rowly escaped. — The artillery was run into the lake. 
Some of the wagons still passed onward. 

The road runs parallel to the lake, and about two 
hundred yards from it. Colonel Doniphan and his 
men endeavored to trample down the grass from the 
road to the lake, in a narrow list, by frequently riding 
over the same ground. They also rode their horses 
into the water, and then quickly turned them upon the 
place where the grass was trodden down, that they 
might moisten it, and thereby stop the progress of the 
fire, but still the flames passed over and heedlessly 
swept along. Capt. Reid with the " Horse Guards," 
adopting a different plan, upon the suggestion of a 

reid's adventure. 


private, ordered his men to dismount about two miles 
in advance, of the trains, and with their sabres hew 
and chop down the grass from the road to the lake, on 
a space thirty feet broad, and throw the cut grass out 
leeward. This was done. Fire was now set to the 
grass standing next to the wind, which burned slowly 
until it met the advancing conflagration. Thus the 
fire was checked on one side of the road. 

On the other side, the volume of flame, increasing 
as the gale rose, rolled along the plain, and over the 
mountains, roaring and crackling, and careering in its 
resistless course, until the fuel which fed it was ex- 
hausted. The men spent the night on the bare and 
blackened earth, and the animals stood to their tethers 
without forage. 

On the south-western side of this lake, and near 
its margin, stands the princely hacienda of Don Angel 
Trias, governor of Chihuahua. On this estate immense 
herds of cattle and flocks of sheep are produced. 
But the Mexican soldiers, seven hundred of whom on 
the morning of the 25th had been seen at the hacien- 
da, had driven them all off, to prevent the Americans 
subsisting upon them. On the night of the 25th, 
and before it was known that the soldiery had evacu- 
ated the post, Captain Reid, with twenty-five of the 
Horse Guards, volunteered to make a reconnoissance 
of the enemy, and report his position and strength. 
As, in the event the enemy was still occupying his po- 
sition at the hacienda, strong guards would most pro- 
bably be posted near the roads leading into the place 
from above and below the lake, the scout, to prevent 
falling upon the guards, and to take the enemy by 
surprise, if it should be deemed advisable to attack 


doniphan's expedition. 

him, crossed the lake, which was near three miles 
wide, and both deep and boggy, and hitherto con- 
sidered impassable. Reaching the opposite shore, 
they saw no sentinel. Therefore they approached 
nearer. Still they saw no sentry. Cautiously, and 
with light footsteps, and in almost breathless silence, 
without a whisper or the jingling of a sabre, and un- 
der covering of the dark, they advanced a little. — 
They heard the sound of music, and at intervals the 
trampling of horses. Perhaps it was the military 
patrol. — None knew. 

They now rode round the hacienda; but the high 
walls precluded the possibility of seeing within. No 
satisfactory reconnoissance could, therefore, be made. 
Not wishing to return to camp without effecting their 
object, the captain and his men, like McDonald and 
his mad-caps at Georgetown, made a sweeping dash, 
with drawn sabre and clattering arms, into the haci- 
enda, to the infinite alarm of the inhabitants. They 
now had possession. The seven hundred soldiers had 
started about an hour previous, to Sacramento. This 
was a bold and hazardous exploit. Then they quar- 
tered in the place, which contains several hundred 
inhabitants, and were sumptuously entertained by the 
Administrador del Hacienda.* The next morning 
they rejoined the army, then on the march, having 
with them several w T ild Mexican cattle. The whole 

* These fearless men were Captain Reid, C. Human, F. C. 
Hughes, W. Russell, J. Cooper, T. Bradford, Todd, I. Walker, 
L. A. Maclean, C. Clarkin, Long, T. Forsyth, Tungitt, Brown, 
W. McDaniel, J. P. Camphell, T. Waugh, J. Vaughan, Boyce, 
Stewart, Antwine, and A. Henderson and J. Kirker, interpre- 
ters, and one or two others. 

1 ' 


force now moved on to a fort called Sapz, on a creek 
discharging into the Laguna de Encenillas. Here 
they encamped. 

The next day the army and trains, including the 
merchant wagons, were drawn up in order of battle, 
ready to manoeuvre expeditiously in the event of a 
sudden attack. The enemy was known to be at no 
great distance.* Thus the march was continued until 
night over a level, beautiful valley, with a high range 
of mountains running along on the left, and, at a 
greater distance, also on the right. A short time be- 
fore sunset Lieutenant-colonel Mitchell, Lieutenants 
Winston and Sproule, Corporal Goodfellow, the au- 
thor and one other volunteer, having proceeded about 
nine miles in advance of the column, and within five 
miles of the enemy's fortified position at Sacramento, 
ascended a high, rocky peak of the mountain, and, 
with good telescopes, enjoyed a fair view of the whole 
Mexican encampment. The enemy's whole line of 
field-works was distinctly viewed; the position of his 
batteries ascertained; and his probable numbers esti- 
mated. The result of this reconnoissance was duly 
reported to Colonel Doniphan, whereupon he imme- 
diately called a council of officers, and matured a plan 
for the conduct of the march on the following day. 
This night also the army encamped on a tributary 
of the lake of Encenillas. 

On Sunday, the 28th of February, a bright and au- 
spicious day, the American army, under Col. Doni- 
phan, arrived in sight of the Mexican encampment at 

* Captain Skillman this day pursued one of the enemy's 
spies into the mountains so closely that he captured his horse ; 
but the Mexican, leaping off, escaped on foot among the rocks. 


dontphan's expedition. 

Sacramento, which could be distinctly seen at the 
distance of four miles. His command consisted of 
the following corps and detachments of troops : 

The 1st regiment, Col. Doniphan, numbering about 
eight hundred men ; Lieutenant-colonel Mitchell's 
escort, ninety-seven men; artillery battalion, Major 
Clark and Capt. Weightman, one hundred and seven- 
teen men, with a light field battery of six pieces of 
cannon ; and two companies of teamsters, under Capts. 
Skillman and Glasgow, forming an extra battalion of 
about one hundred and fifty men, commanded by 
Major Owens, of Independence, making an aggregate 
force of one thousand one hundred and sixty-four men, 
all Missouri volunteers. The march of the day was 
conducted in the following order: the wagons, near 
four hundred in all, were thrown into four parallel 
files, with spaces of thirty feet between each. In the 
centre space marched the artillery battalion; in the 
space to the right, the 1st battalion, and in the space 
to the left, the 2d battalion. Masking these in front 
marched the three companies intended to act as cav- 
alry, the Missouri horse guards, under Capt. Reid, on 
the right, the Missouri dragoons under Capt. Parsons 
on the left, and the Chihuahua rangers under Capt. 
Hudson in the centre. Thus arranged, they ap- 
proached the scene of action.* 

The enemy had occupied the brow of a rocky emi- 
nence rising upon a plateau between the river Sacra- 
mento and the Arroyi Seci, and near the Sacramento 

* An eagle, sometimes soaring- aloft and sometimes swooping 
down amongst the fluttering banners, followed along the lines 
all day, and seemed to herald the news of victory. The men 
regarded the omen as good. 


Redoubts and intrenchments, filled with Mexican in- 

1. First position U. S. forces. 2, Second do. a, First posi- 
tion Mexican cavalry, b, Second position Mexican do. c, First 
position Mexican infantry, d, Second position Mexican cavalry 
and infantry, 

A A Redoubts and intrenchments stormed by Capt. Reid's 
Horse Guards. 

B First position of the howitzers on hill. 

C Second " " " " 

D D D Redoubts and intrenchments taken by the 1st battalion. 

E E E E Redoubts and intrenchments taken by 2d battalion, 
and Missouri Dragoons. 

F Major Clark's battery dispersing the rally of Mex. cavalry. 

H Fourth position Major Clark's battery, from which he 
silenced the fort on Sacramento hill. 


Colonel A. W. Doniphan, Comm. U. S. Forces. 
Staff — Capt. Tompson, U. S., D. A. de C. — Lieut, De Courcy 

Surg. — Morton; Asst. Ss., Moore and Morton. 

Artillery — Major Clark, Adjt. Walker, Capt. Weightman.— 
Section Howitz. ; Lieuts. Chouteau and Evans. 

Six lb\s — Lieuts. Dorn, Kribben, Labeaume. 

Cavalry, Missouri Horse Guards, Capt. Reid.-— Lieuts., Hinton, 
Barnett, Moss and Hicklin. 

Missouri Dragoons — Capt. Parsons. — Lieuts., Winston and 

Chihuahua Rangers — Capt. Hudson. — Lts., Sproule and Todd 
Infantry — Lt. Cols., Mitchell and Jackson.— Major Gilpin. — 

Capts., Waldo, Walton, Moss, Stevensons, Hughes, and Rogers. 

—Lts., Reed, Clayton, Childs, Lea, Graves, Sublette, Ogden, 

Miller, Bush, M'Danald, Campbell, Gordon, Jackson, Wright, 

Duncan and Murray. 

Note. — Strength of the U. S. Forces : Total, 924 — 6 pieces artillery. — Loss, 1 
killed and 11 wounded (3 mortally). — Mexican: 4224 — 10 ps. artill. and 9 culvs.— 
Killed 320, wounded 560, 72 taken pris. 



fort, eighteen miles from Chihuahua, and fortified its 
approaches by a line of field-works, consisting of 
twenty-eight strong redoubts and intrenchments. Here, 
in this apparently secure position, the Mexicans had 
determined to make a bold stand; for this pass was 
the key to the capital. So certain of victory were the 
Mexicans, that they had prepared strings and hand- 
cuffs in which they meant to drive us, prisoners, to 
the city of Mexico, as they did the Texans in 1841. 
Thus fortified and intrenched, the Mexican army, con- 
sisting, according to a consolidated report of the adju- 
tant-general which came into Col. Doniphan's pos- 
session after the battle, of four thousand two hundred 
and twenty men, commanded by Major-general Jose 
A. Heredia ; aided by Gen. Garcia Conde, former 
minister of war in Mexico, as commander of cavalry ; 
Gen. Mauricia Ugarte, commander of infantry ; Gen. 
Justiniani, commander of artillery, and Governor An- 
gel Trias, Brigadier-general, commanding the Chihua- 
hua volunteers, awaited the approach of the Americans. 

When Col. Doniphan arrived within one mile and a 
half of the enemy's fortifications, (a reconnoissance of 
his position having been made by Major Clark) leaving 
the main road which passed within the range of his bat- 
teries, he suddenly deflected to the right, crossed the 
rocky Arroya, expeditiously gained the plateau be- 
yond, successfully deployed his men into line upon 
the highland, causing the enemy to change his first 
position, and made the assault from the west. This 
was the best point of attack that could possibly have 
been selected. The event of the day proves how 
well it was chosen. 

In passing the Arroya the caravan and baggage 


doniphan's expedition. 

trains followed close upon the rear of the army. Noth- 
ing could exceed in point of solemnity and grandeui 
the rumbling of the artillery, the firm moving of the 
caravan, the dashing to and fro of horsemen, and the 
waving of banners and gay fluttering guidons as both 
armies advanced to the attack on the rocky plain; for 
at this crisis Gen. Conde, with a select body of twelve 
hundred cavalry, dashed down from the fortified 
heights to commence the engagement. When within 
nine hundred and fifty yards of our alignment, Major 
Clark's battery of six pounders and Weightman's sec- 
tion of howitzers opened upon them a well-directed 
and most destructive fire, producing fearful execution 
in their ranks. In some disorder they fell back a 
short distance, unmasking a battery of cannon, which 
immediately commenced its fire upon us. A brisk 
cannonading was now kept up on both sides for the 
space of fifty minutes, during which time the enemy 
suffered great loss, our battery discharging twenty- 
four rounds to the minute. The balls from the en- 
emy's cannon whistled through our ranks in quick 
succession. Many horses and other animals were 
killed, and the wagons much shattered. Sergeant A. 
Hughes, of the Missouri dragoons, had both his legs 
broken by a cannon-ball. In this action the enemy, 
who were drawn up in columns four deep, close order, 
lost about twenty-five killed, besides a great number 
of horses. The Americans who stood dismounted in 
two ranks, open order, suffered but slight injury. 

Gen. Conde with considerable disorder now fell 
back and rallied his men behind the intrenchments 
and redoubts. — Col. Doniphan immediately ordered 
the buglers to sound the advance. Thereupon the 



American army moved forward in the following man- 
ner, to storm the enemy's breastworks : 

The artillery battalion, Major Clark, in the centre, 
firing occasionally on the advance ; the 1st battalion, 
commanded by Lieutenant-colonels Jackson and Mitch- 
ell, composing the right wing; the two select compa- 
nies of cavalry under Capts. Reid and Parsons, and 
Capt. Hudson's mounted company, immediately on the 
left of the artillery; and the 2d battalion on the ex- 
treme left, commanded by Major Gilpin. The cara- 
van and baggage trains, under command of Major 
Owens, followed close in the rear, Col. Doniphan 
and his aids, Capt. Thompson, United States' army, 
adjutant De Courcy, and Sergeant-major Crenshaw 
acted between the battalions. 

At this crisis a body of three hundred lancers and 
lazadors, were discovered advancing upon our rear. 
These were exclusive of Heredia's main force, and 
were said to be criminals, turned loose from the Chi- 
huahua prisons, that by some gallant exploit they 
might expurgate themselves of crime. To this end, 
they were posted in the rear to cut off stragglers, pre- 
vent retreat, and capture and plunder the merchant 
wagons. The battalion of teamsters kept these at bay. 
Besides this force there were a thousand spectators, 
women, citizens, and rancheros, perched on the sum- 
mits of the adjacent mountains and hills, watching the 
event of the day. 

As w r e neared the enemy's redoubts, still inclining 
to the right, a heavy fire was opened upon us from 
his different batteries, consisting in all of sixteen pieces 
of cannon. But owing to the facility with w T hich our 
movements were performed, and to the fact that the 


doniphan's expedition. 

Mexicans were compelled to fire plungingly upon our 
lines, (their position being considerably elevated above 
the plateau, and particularly the battery placed on the 
brow of the Sacramento mountain with the design of 
enfilading our column,) we sustained but little damage. 

When our column had approached within about foui 
hundred yards of the enemy's line of field works, the 
three cavalry companies, under Capts. Reid, Parsons, 
and Hudson, and Weightman's section of howitzers 
were ordered to carry the main centre battery, which 
had considerably annoyed our lines, and which was 
protected by a strong bastion. The charge was not 
made simultaneously, as intended by the colonel ; for 
this troop having spurred forward a little way, was 
halted for a moment under a heavy cross-fire from the 
enemy, by the adjutant's misapprehending the order. 
However, Capt. Reid, either not hearing or disregard- 
ing the adjutant's order to halt, leading the way, 
waved his sword, and rising in his stirrups, exclaimed, 
u will my men follow me?" Hereupon Lieuts. Bar- 
nett, Hinton, and Moss, with about twenty-five men, 
bravely sprang forward, rose the hill with the captain, 
carried the battery, and for a moment silenced the 
guns. But we were too weak to hold possession of it. 
By the overwhelming force of the enemy we were 
beaten back, and many of us wounded. Here Major 
Samuel C. Owens, who had voluntarily charged upon 
the redoubt, received a cannon or musket shot, which 
instantly killed both him and his horse. Capt. Reid's 
horse was shot under him, and a gallant young man 
of the same name immediately dismounted, and gene- 
rously offered the captain his. 

By this time the remainder of Capt. Reid's company 



under Lieut. Hicklin, and the section of howitzers un- 
der Capt. Weigh tman, and Lieuts. Choteau and Evans, 
rose the hill, and supported Captain Reid. A deadly 
volley of grape and cannister shot, mingled with yager 
balls, quickly cleared the intrenchments and the re- 
doubt. The battery was retaken and held. Almost 
at the same instant Capts. Parsons, and Hudson, with 
the two remaining companies of cavalry, crossed the 
intrenchments to Reid'sleft, and successfully engaged 
with the enemy. They resolutely drove him back 
and held the ground. 

All the companies were now pressing forward, and 
pouring over the intrenchments, and into the redoubts, 
eagerly vieing with each other in the noble struggle 
for victory. Each company, as well as each soldier, 
was ambitious to excel. Companies A, B, C, and a 
part of company D, composing the right wing, all dis- 
mounted, respectively under command of Capts. Waldo, 
Walton, Moss, and Lieut. Miller, led on by Lieutenant- 
colonels Jackson and Mitchell, stormed a formidable 
line of redoubts on the enemy's left, defended by sev- 
eral pieces of cannon, and a great number of resolute 
and well-armed men. A part of this wing took pos- 
session of the strong battery on Sacramento hill, which 
had kept up a continued cross firing upon our right 
during the whole engagement. Cols. Jackson and 
Mitchell, and their captains, lieutenants, non-commis- 
sioned officers, and men generally, behaved with com- 
mendable gallantry. Many instances of individual 
prowess were exhibited But it is invidious to dis- 
tinguish between men-, where all performed their duty 
so nobly. 

Meanwhile the left wing also dismounted, com- 


Doniphan's expedition. 

manded by Major Gilpin, a gallant and skillful officer, 
boldly scaled the heights, passed the intrenchments, 
cleared the redoubts, and with considerable slaughter 
forced the enemy to retreat from his position on the 
right. Company G, under Capt. Hughes, and a part 
of company F, under Lieut. Gordon, stormed a bat- 
tery of three brass four pounders strongly defended by 
embankments, and ditches filled by resolute and well- 
armed Mexican infantry. Some of the artillerists were 
made prisoners while endeavoring to touch off the can- 
non. Companies H and E, under Capts. Rodgers and 
Stephenson, and a part of Hudson's company under 
Lieut. Todd, on the extreme left, behaved nobly, and 
fought with great courage. They beat the Mexicans 
from their strong places, and chased them like blood- 
hounds. Major Gilpin was not behind his men in bra- 
very — he encouraged them to fight by example. 

Major Clark, with his six pounders, and Captain 
Weigh (man, with his howitzers, during the whole 
action rendered the most signal and essential service, 
and contributed much towards the success of the day. 
The gallant charge led by Capt. Reid, and sustained 
by Capt. Weightman, in point of daring and brilliancy 
of execution, has not been excelled by any similar 
exploit during the war. 

Gen. Heredia made several unsuccessful attempts 
to rally his retreating forces, to infuse into their minds 
new courage, and to close up the breaches already 
made in his lines. General Conde, with his troop of 
horse, also vainly endeavored to check the advance 
of the Missourians. They were dislodged from their 
strong places, and forced from the hill in confusion. 

The rout of the Mexican army now became general, 



and the slaughter continued until night put an end to 
the chase. The battle lasted three hours and a half. 
The men returned to the battle-field after dark, com- 
pletely worn out and exhausted with fatigue. The 
Mexicans lost three hundred and four men killed on 
the field, and a large number wounded, perhaps not 
less than five hundred, and seventy prisoners, among 
whom was Brigadier-general Cuilta* together with a 
vast quantity of provisions, six thousand dollars in 
specie, fifty thousand head of sheep, one thousand 
five hundred head of cattle, one hundred mules, twenty 
wagons, twenty-five or thirty caretas, twenty-five thou- 
sand pounds of ammunition, ten pieces of cannon of 
different calibre, varying from four to nine pounders, 
six culverins or wall pieces, one hundred stand of 
small arms, one hundred stand of small colors, seven 
fine carriages, the general's scrutoire, and many other 
things of less note. Our loss was Major Samuel C. 
Owens, killed, and eleven wounded,! three of whom 
have subsequently died. 

Thus was the army of Central Mexico totally de- 
feated, and completely disorganized, by a column of 
Missouri volunteers. The Mexicans retreated pre- 
cipitately to Durango, and dispersed among the ran- 

* Gen. Cuilta was captured in Chihuahua on the 4th of March 
by Lieutenant-colonel Jackson, and Capt. Hughes, while officer 
of the day. 

\ Wounded. — In Capt. Reid's mounted company : A. A.. Kirk- 
patrick, mortally; J. L. MacGruder, mortally; J. Barnes, arm 
broken ; L. A. Maclean, severely ; J. Sullivan, slightly ; J. T. 
Hughes, slightly. In Capt. Parson's mounted company : W. 
Henkey, mortally; W. Gordon, severely; Serg't. A. Hughes, 
both legs broken ; J. B.Fleming, severely. In Hudson's moun- 
ted company : J. Wolf, slightly. 


doniphan's expedition. 

chob and villages. Their leaders were never able to 
rally them. 

In this engagement Col. Doniphan was personally 
much exposed, and by reason of his stature was a 
conspicuous mark for the fire of the enemy's guns. 
He was all the while at the proper place, whether 
to dispense his orders, encourage his men, or to use 
his sabre in thinning the enemy's ranks.* His cour- 
age and gallant conduct, were only equalled by his 
clear foresight, and great judgment. His effective 
force actually engaged was about nine hundred and 
fifty men, including a considerable number of amateur 
fighters, among whom^Jas. L. Collins, Jas. Kirker, 

* Previous to the commencement of the battle, the hostage, 
Ortiz, manifested considerable uneasiness, and showed an evi- 
dent disposition not to be carried near the scene of strife, lest he 
too should suffer in the general slaughter, which he apprehended 
would take place among the Americans. He said to Col. Doni- 
phan : " Your force is too weak to contend against such a force 
as the Mexican army, and in so strong a position : you will all 
be inevitably destroyed, or captured and put in chains. The 
Mexicans will whip you beyond a doubt. I beg that you will 
permit me to remain out of danger. " Col. Doniphan good hu- 
moredly replied : u If I should be victorious T will continue to 
treat you in a manner every way worthy your dignity. If your 
own people should be the conquerors, and you should fall into 
their hands, they will certainiy do you no hurt. So, being safe 
in either event, you must have little cause of apprehension." 
When the battle was over, Col. Doniphan observed to the 
curate : " Well, Ortiz, what think you now about the Mexicans 
'whipping' my boys 1 " The other replied : " Ah! sir, they 
would have defeated you, if you had fought like men, but you 
fought like devils. " 

While the battle was raging, Captain Glasgow, of the mer- 
chant battalion, came up to the colonel, who was standing upon 
the hill from which the Mexicans had been repulsed, and asked 



Messrs. Henderson and Anderson, interpreters, Major 
Campbell, and James Stewart, deserve to be favorably 
mentioned. They fought bravely./ It was impossible 
for Captains Skillman and Glasgow to bring their com- 
panies of teamsters into the action. They deserve 
great honor for their gallantry in defending the trains. 
The soldiers encamped on the battle field, within the 
enemy's intrenchments, and feasted sumptuously upon 
his viands, wines and pound-cakes. There they 

Colonel Doniphan, not, like Hannibal, loitering on 
the plains of Italy, after the battle of Cannae, when he 
might have entered Rome in triumph, immediately 
followed up his success, and improved the advantage 

him how the day was about to issue : 44 Don't you see, " says 
the colonel, 44 how my boys are knocking them down like nine- 
pins ? " 

Just previous to the charge, the right and left wings were 
dismounted, and every seventh man detailed to hold horses. 
At this moment the volley of musketry, grape and cannister, 
from the enemy's lines, was tremendous. As Col. Doniphan 
passed up the lines, a volunteer, who had seven horses in charge, 
called to him and said, 44 See here, Colonel! am I compelled to 
stand here in this tempest of cannon and musket balls, and hold 
horses? " 44 Yes, " says the colonel, 44 if you are detailed for the 
purpose, " The volunteer quickly tying the several bridles 
together, dashed them down, seized his gun and sabre, and 
started off in the charge, exclaiming as he left the colonel, 
44 Hold hell in a fight ! I didrtt come here to hold horses — / can do 
that at home* " 

As the right wing scaled the breast-works, sergeant Tom 
Hinckle was one of the first who crossed the intrenchments, 
and got amongst the enemy. Having fired his yager and pistols, 
he was too hotly beleaguered to reload them. He laid them 
aside, and like Ajax Telamon, resolutely defended himself by 
throwing rocks. 


which his victory gave him. Early the next morn- 
ing, (March 1st,) he dispatched Lieutenant-colonel 
Mitchell, with one hundred and fifty men under com- 
mand of Captains Reid and Weightman, and a section 
of artillery, to take formal possession of the capital, 
and occupy it in the name of his government. This 
detachment, before arriving in the city, was met by 
several American gentlemen escaping from confine- 
ment, who represented that the Mexicans had left the 
place undefended, and fled with the utmost 1 preci- 
pitation to Durango. The Spanish consul, also, 
came out with the flag of his country, to salute and 
acknowledge the conqueror. This small body of 
troops entered and took military possession of Chi* 
huahua, without the slightest resistance, and the fol- 
lowing night occupied the Cuartel near Hidalgo's 
monument, which stands in the Alameda. 

Mearrwhile Colonel Doniphan and his men collect- 
ed the booty, tended the captured animals, refitted the 
trains, remounted those who had lost their steeds in 
the action, arranged the preliminaries of a procession, 
and having marched a few miles, encamped for the 
night. On the morning of the 2d day of March, Col. 
Doniphan, with all his military trains, the merchant 
caravan, gay, fluttering colors, and the whole spolia 
opima, triumphantly entered the city to the tunes of 
" Yankee Doodle " and " Hail Columbia," and fired 
in the public square a national salute of tw r enty-eight 
guns.— This was a proud moment for the American 
troops. The battle of Sacramento gave them the cap- 
ital, and now the stars and stripes, and serpent-eagle 
of the model republic, were streaming victoriously 
over the strong hold of Central Mexico* 

Doniphan's report. 


Colonel Doniphan's official account of the memora- 
ble battle of the 28th of February is here subjoined : 

Headquarters of the Army ; Chihuahua, } 
City of Chihuahua, March 4th, 1847. 5 

I have the honor to report to you the movement of the 
army under my command since my last official report. 

On the evening of the 8th of February, 1847, we left 
the town of Ei Paso del Norte, escorting the merchant train 
or caravan of three hundred and fifteen wagons for the city 
of Chihuahua. Our force consisted of nine hundred and 
twenty-four effective men ; one hundred and seventeen of- 
ficers and privates of the artillery; ninety -three of Lieuten- 
ant-colonel Mitchell's escort, and the remainder, of the first 
regiment Missouri mounted volunteers. We progressed in 
the direction of this place until the 25th, when we were in- 
formed by our spies that the enemy, to the number of one 
thousand five hundred men, were at Encenillas, the country 
seat of Governor Trias, about twenty-five miles in advance. 

When we arrived on the evening of the 26th, near the 
point, we found that the force had retreated in the direction 
of this city. On the evening of the 27th we arrived at 
Sanz, and learned from our spies that the enemy in great 
force had fortified the pass of the Sacramento river, about 
fifteen miles in advance, and about the same distance from 
this city. We were also informed that there was no watei 
between the point that we were at, and that occupied by the 
enemy ; w r e therefore determined to halt until morning. At 
sunrise on the 28th, the last day of February, we took up 
the line of march and formed the whole train, consisting of 
three hundred and fifteen heavy traders' wagons, and our 
commissary and company wagons, into four columns, thus 
shortening our line so as to make it more easily protected. 
We placed the artillery and all the commands except two 
hundred cavalry proper, in the intervals between the col- 
umns of wagons. We thus fully concealed our fc^ce and 


doniphan's expedition. 

its position by masking our force with the cavalry. When 
we arrived within three miles of the enemy, we made a re- 
connoissance of his position and the arrangement of his 
forces. — This we could easily do, the road leading through 
an open prairie valley between the sterile mountains. The 
pass of the Sacramento is formed by a point of the moun- 
tains on our right their left extending into the valley or 
plain so as to narrow the valley to about one and a half 
miles. On our left was a deep dry channel of a creek, and 
between these points the plain rises to sixty feet abruptly. 
This rise is in the form of a crescent, the convex part being 
to the north of our forces. On the right, from the point of 
mountains, a narrow part of the plain extends north one 
and a half miles further than on the left. The main road 
passes down the centre of the valley and across the cres- 
cent, near the left or dry branch. 

The Sacramento rises in the mountain on the right, and 
the road falls on it about one m Le below the battle field or 
intrenchmentof the enemy. We ascertained that the enemy 
had one battery of four guns, two nine and six pounders on 
the point of the mountain on our right (their left) at good el- 
evation commanding the road, and three intrenchments of 
two six pounders, and on the brow of the crescent near the 
centre, another of two, six and four, and six culverins, or 
rampart pieces, mounted on carriages ; and on the crest of 
the hill or ascent between the batteries, and on the right and 
left, they had twenty-seven redoubts dug and thrown up, 
extending at short intervals across the whole ground. In 
these their infantry were placed, and were entirely protect- 
ed. Their cavalry were drawn up in front of the redoubts 
in the intervals four deep, and in front of the redoubts two 
deep, so as to mask them as far as practicable. When we 
arrived within one and a half miles of the intrenchments 
along the main road, we advanced the cavalry still further, 
and suddenly diverged with the columns to the right so as 

Doniphan's report. 


to gain the narrow part of the ascent on our right, which 
the enemy discovering, endeavored to prevent, by moving 
forward with one thousand cavalry and four pieces of 
cannon in their rear, masked by them. Our movements 
were so rapid that we gained the elevation with our forces 
and the advance of our wagons, in time to form before they 
arrived within reach of our guns. The enemy halted, and 
we advanced the head of our column within twelve hundred 
yards of them, so as to let our wagons attain the high lands 
and form as before. 

We now commenced the action by a brisk fire from our 
battery, and the enemy unmasked and commenced also ; our 
fire proved effective at this distance, killing fifteen men, 
wounding many more, and disabling one of the enemy's 
guns. We had two men slightly wounded, and several 
horses and mules killed. The enemy then slowly retreated 
behind their works in some confusion, and we resumed our 
march in our former order, still diverging more to the right 
to avoid their battery on our left, (their right,) and their 
strongest redoubts, which were on the left, near where the 
road passes. After marching as far as we safely could, with- 
out coming in range of their heavy battery on our right, Capt. 
Weightman of the artillery, was ordered to charge with the 
two twelve pound howitzers, to be supported by the cavalry 
under Capts. Reid, Parsons, and Hudson. The howitzers 
charged at speed, and were gallantly sustained by Captain 
Reid ; but, by some misunderstanding, my order was not 
given to the other two companies. Capt. Hudson, antici- 
pating my order, charged in time to give ample support to 
the howitzers. Capt. Parsons, at the same moment, came 
to me, and asked permission for his company to charge the 
redoubts immediately to the left of Capt. Weightman, which 
he did very gallantly. — The remainder of the two battalions 
of the regiment were dismounted during the cavalry charge, 
and followed rapidly on foot, and Major Clarke advanced as 
fast as possible with the remainder of the battery ; we 


doniphan's expedition. 

charged their redoubts from right to left, with a brisk and 
deadly lire of riflemen, while Major Clarke opened a rapid 
and well-directed fire on a column of cavalry attempting to 
pass to our left so as to attack the wagons and our rear. The 
fire was so well-directed as to force them to fall back ; and 
our riflemen, with the cavalry and howitzers, cleared the 
hill after an obstinate resistance. Our force advanced to the 
very brink of their redoubts, and attacked them with their 
sabres. When the redoubts were cleared, and the batteries 
in the centre and our left were silenced, the main battery on 
our right still continued to pour in a constant and heavy fire, 
as it had done during the heat of the engagement; but as the 
whole fate of the battle depended upon carrying the redoubts 
and centre battery, this one on the right remained unattacked, 
and the enemy had rallied there, five hundred strong. 

Major Clarke was directed to commence a heavy fire upon 
it, while Lieutenant-colonels Mitchell and Jackson, com- 
manding the 1st battalion, were ordered to remount and 
charge the battery on the left, while Major Gilpin was di- 
rected to march the 2d battalion on foot up the rough ascent 
of the mountain on the opposite side. The fire of our bat- 
tery was so effective as to completely silence theirs, and the 
rapid advance of our column put them to flight over the 
mountains in great confusion. 

Capt. Thompson, of the 1st dragoons, acted as my aid 
and adviser on the field during the whole engagement, 
and was of the most essential service to me. Also, Lieut. 
Wooster, of the U. S. army, who acted very coolly and gal- 
lantly. Major Campbell, of Springfield, Missouri, also 
acted as a volunteer aid during part of the time, but left me 
and joined Capt. Reid in his gallant charge. Thus ended 
the battle of Sacramento. The force of the enemy was 
1,200 cavalry from Durango and Chihuahua, with the Vera 
Cruz dragoons, and 1,200 infantry from Chihuahua, 300 ar- 
tillerists, and 1,420 rancheros, badly armed with lassos, lan- 
ces, and machetes or corn knives, ten pieces of artillery, 2 

Doniphan's report. 


nine, 4 eight and 2 four-pounders, and 6 culverins, or ram- 
part pieces. Their forces were commanded by Major-gen- 
eral Hendea, general of Durango, Chihuahua, Sonora, and 
New Mexico ; Brigadier-general J ustiniani ; Brigadier-gen- 
eral Garcia Conde, formerly minister of war for the republic 
of Mexico, who is a scientific man, and planned this whole 
field of defence ; Gen Uguarte, and Governor Trias, who 
acted as brigadier general on the field, and colonels and other 
officers without number. 

Our force was nine hundred and twenty-four effective 
men, at least one hundred of whom were engaged in hold- 
ing horses and driving teams. 

The loss of the enemy was his entire artillery, 20 wagons, 
masses of beans and pinola, and other Mexican provisions, 
about three hundred killed and the same number wounded, 
many of whom have since died, and forty prisoners. 

The field was literally covered with the dead and woun- 
ded from our artillery, and the unerring fire of our riflemen. 
Night put a stop to the carnage, the battle having commen- 
ced about three o'clock. Our loss was one killed, one 
mortally wounded, and seven so wounded as to recover 
without the loss of limbs. I cannot speak too highly of the 
coolness, gallantry, and bravery of the officers and men un- 
der my command. 

I was ably sustained by the field officers, Lieutenant-col- 
onels Mitchell and Jackson, of the 1st battalion, and Major 
Gilpin, of the 2d battalion ; and Major Clarke and his artil- 
lery acted nobly and did the most effective service in every 
part of the field. It is abundantly shown, in the charge 
made by Capt. Weightman with the section of howitzers, 
that they can be used in any charge of cavalry with great 
effect. Much has been said, and justly, of the gallantry of 
our artillery, unlimbering within two hundred and fifty 
yards of the enemy at Palo Alto ; but how much more dar- 
ing was the charge of Capt. Weightman, when he unlim- 
bered within fifty yards of the redoubts of the enemy. 


Doniphan's expedition. 

On the first day of March we took formal possession of 
the capital of Chihuahua in the name of our government. 
We were ordered by Gen. Kearney to report to Gen. Wool 
at this place ; since our arrival we hear he is at Saltillo, 
surrounded by the enemy. Our present purpose is either 
to force our way to him, or return by Bexar ; as our term 
of service expires on the last day of May next. 

I have the honor to be your obedient servant, 

A. W. DONIPHAN, Col 1st Regt. Mo. Vol. 
R. Jones, Adjt. Gen. U. S. A. 

On the morning after the engagement Major Clark, 
in reporting to Col. Doniphan the conduct of the 
troops under his command, holds the following lan- 
guage : 

Capt. Weightman charged at full gallop upon the enemy's 
left, preceded by Capt. Reid and his company of horse, 
and after crossing a ravine some hundred and fifty yards 
from the enemy, he unlimbered the guns within fifty yards 
of the intrenchment, and opened a destructive fire of can- 
nister into his ranks, which was warmly returned, but with- 
out effect. Capt. Weightman again advanced upon the in- 
trenchment, passing through it in the face of the enemy, 
and within a few feet of the ditches, and in the midst of 
cross-fires from three directions, again opened his fire to 
the right and left with such effect, that with the formidable 
charge of the cavalry and mounted men of your own regi- 
ment and Lieutenant-colonel Mitchell's escort, the enemy 
were driven from their breastworks on our right in great 
confusion. At this time under a heavy cross-fire from the 
battery of four six-pounders, under Lieuts. Dorn, Kribbin, 
and Labeaume, upon the enemy's right, supported by Major 
Gilpin on the left, and the wagon train escorted by two 
companies of infantry under Capt. E. F. Glasgow and 
Skillman in the rear, Major Gilpin charged upon the en- 
emy's centre and forced him from his intrenchments under 

major clark's report. 


a heavy fire of artillery and small arms. At the same time 
the fire of our own battery was opened upon the enemy's 
extreme right, from which a continued fire had been kept 
up upon our line and the wagon train. Two of the 
enemy's guns were now dismounted on their right, that 
battery silenced and the enemy dislodged from the redoubt 
on the Cerro Frigolis. Perceiving a body of lancers form- 
ing, for the purpose of outflanking our left, and attacking 
the merchant train under Capts. Glasgow and Skillman, I 
again opened upon them a very destructive fire of grape and 
spherical case shot, which soon cleared the left of our line. 
The enemy vacating his intrenchments and deserting his 
guns, was hotly pursued towards the mountains beyond 
Cerro Frigolis, and down Arroyo Seceo la Sacramento by 
both wings of the army under Lieutenant-colonel Mitchell, 
Lieutenant-colonel Jackson and Major Gilpin, and by Capt. 
Weigh tman, with the section of howitzers. During this 
pursuit my officers repeatedly opened their fires upon the 
retreating enemy with great effect. To cover this flight of 
the enemy's forces from the intrenched camp, the heaviest 
of his cannon had been taken from the intrenchment to Cerro 
Sacramento, and a heavy fire opened upon our pursuing 
forces and the wagons following in the rear. To silence 
this battery I had the honor to anticipate your order to that 
effect, by at once occupying the nearest of the enemy's 
intrenchments, twelve hundred and twenty-five yards dis- 
tant, and notwithstanding the elevated position of the Mexi- 
can battery, giving him a plunging fire into my intrench- 
ment, which was not defiladed, and the greater range of his 
long nine-pounders, the first fire of our guns dismounted 
one of his largest pieces, and the fire was kept up with 
such briskness and precision of aim, that the battery was 
soon silenced and the enemy seen precipitately retreating. 
The fire was then continued upon the rancho Sacramento, 
and the enemy's ammunition and wagon train, retreating 
upon the road to Chihuahua. By their fire the house and 

324 doniphan's expedition. 

several wagons were rendered untenable and useless. By 
this time Lieutenant-colonel Mitchell had scaled the hill, 
followed by the section of howitzers under Capt. Weight- 
man, ^nd the last position of the Mexican forces was taken 
possession of by our troops ; thus leaving the American 
forces master of the field. 


Doniphan's proclamation — The American residents — The keys 
to the Mint — Mexican morals— Chihuahua— -Its attractions 
-—Express to Gen. Wool — The fourteen— Arrival at Saltillo 
— Visit to the battle field of Buena Vista — Return of the 

Col. Doniphan, now having actual possession of 
the city of Chihuahua, and virtual possession of the 
State; having quartered his soldiers in the public 
buildings near the plaza, and other houses vacated by 
the families who fled at his approach : having sta- 
tioned his artillery in a manner to command the 
streets and other avenues leading into the square, for 
the perfect defence of the capital ; having sent the 
Prefecto of the city to the battle-field w;th a number 
of Mexicans to bury their dead; and having set the 
curate, Ortiz, and the other hostages at liberty, issued 
the following proclamation to the inhabitants of 
Chihuahua : — 

" The commander of the North American forces in Chi- 
huahua, informs the citizens of this State, that he has taken 
military possession of this capital, and has the satisfaction 
o assure them that complete tranquillity exists therein. 

He invites all the citizens to return to their houses and 
continue their ordinary occupations, under the security that 
their persons, religion and property shall be respected. 

He declares, likewise, in the name of his government, 
that having taken possession of the capital, after conquering 
the forces of the State, he has equally taken possession of 
the State 

( 325 * 


doniphan's expedition. 

He invites the citizens of all the towns and ranchos, to 
continue their traffic, to come to this capital to buy and sell 
as formerly before the late occurrences, under the assurance 
they shall in no manner be molested or troubled, and as al- 
ready said, their property shall be respected ; for if the 
troops under his command shall stand in need of anything, 
a fair price shall be given for the value thereof with the ut- 
most punctuality. 

He likewise declares, that the American troops will pun- 
ish with prompitude, any excess that may be committed, 
whether it be by the barbarous Indians, or by any other 

Lastly, we assure all good citizens, that we carry on war 
against the armies alone, and not against individual citizens 
who are unarmed. 

We, therefore, only exact, not that any Mexican shall 
assist us against his country, but that in the present war he 
remain neutral ; for it cannot be expected, in a contrary 
event, that we shall respect the rights of those who take np 
arms against our lives." 

Preceding the battle of Sacramento, the American 
residents and merchants in Chihuahua, of whom there 
were about thirty, received ill-treatment from the 
Mexican populace. Indignities and insults were of- 
fered them. They were mostly kept in custody, and 
not permitted to pass without the limits of the city. 
They were tauntingly told that when Col. Doniphan 
and his handful of men arrived there, they would be 
hand-cuffed and delivered over to the populace, to be 
dealt with as their caprices should suggest, and their 
humor prompt them. They even exulted in the an- 
ticipation of the tortures and cruelties they meant to 
inflict upon the " presumptuous northern invaders." 
To this they often added the epithets, " Texans, yan- 



kees, heretics and pirates." When the action com- 
menced the cannonading was distinctly heard in 
Chihuahua. The tide of battle was known to be 
raging, but the event was doubtful. — When the first 
cannonading ceased it was announced that the Ameri- 
cans were defeated — that victory had perched on the 
Mexican flag. The resident Americans now lost all 
hope. The rabble triumphed, and exulted over 
them. In a fit of immoderate excitement, the greasers 
seized staves, knives, stones, and whatever else chance 
had thrown in their way, and threatened to kill them 
without distinction. But hark! the thunders of the 
battle are again renewed. — The merchants' hearts 
began to revive. The cannon's roar, the vollies of 
musketry, and the sharp-shooting yagers, are heard 
until darkness envelopes the earth. At length a 
courier, " frantic with despair," arrives in the city 
and exclaims " Per demos I Perdemos !" we are lost, de- 
feated, ruined. Then the generals, the governor, and 
the retreating host came, and in hot haste passed on 
to Parral, and thence to Durango, scarcely halting in 
the city to take a little refreshment. The star of the 
northern republic was in the ascendant, and in the 
pride of their hearts the American residents shouted 
"victory and triumph." — Only one American, James 
McGoffin, a Kentuckian and a naturalized Mexican, 
was retained a prisoner, and sent to Durango. The 
rest were liberated. 

On the 3d of March, the funeral ceremonies ofMaj. 
Owens were performed in the Catholic church in Chi- 
huahua, with great pomp. The Mexican priests offi- 
ciated on the occasion. His corpse was thence con- 
veyed to the cemetery, and interred with masonic and 


Doniphan's expedition. 

martial honors. On the following day sergeant Kirk- 
patrick died, and was buried with similar honors. 
a Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" 

The same day Lieutenant-colonel Mitchell, accom- 
panied by several officers and a file of men, went into 
the public buildings to take possession of such public 
property as might be found in the city, for the benefit 
of the United States' treasury. When he called on 
Mr. Potts, who claimed to be acting English consul at 
Chihuahua, he refused to give him the keys of the : 
mint, alledging u that he had a private claim upon the 
mint, and did not intend to permit the Americans to 
go into it." Hereupon great excitement prevailed 
among the soldiers ; for upon the consul's refusing ad- 
mittance into so spacious a building, it was conjectured 
that the governor and a body of troops might be con- 
cealed therein. About five hundred soldiers ran to 
their arms and made ready for the emergency. Capt. 
Weightman sent for his section of howitzers, to be 
used as keys in entering the building. When their 
muzzles were turned upon \h j doors, and the port-fires 
lighted, the consul, seeing no other alternative, deliv- 
ered up the keys. 

It has been said, with much justice, that the Mexi- 
cans both in central and northern Mexico, have an 
unconquerable propensity for amusement and gam- 
bling. Their thieving propensities are equally irre- 
pressible. This remark is more especially intended 
to apply to the lower classes, among whom there is 
but little of either modesty, truth, virtue, intelligence, 
honor, or honesty.-- -They were frequently detected in 
stealing mules, horses and other property from the 
American camp while in Chihuahua, and from Jack- 



son's camp at the Bull-pen* in the suburbs of the city. 
No argument less potent than a teamster's wagon-whip 
was sufficient to restrain them. They were therefore 
often scourged for their offences, and that sometimes 
publicly. This was necessary even to the preserving 
of tolerable order amongst them. 

The people of central Mexico, however, are upon an 
average much more enlightened, and possess a higher 
degree of moral honesty than the inhabitants of the 
more northern provinces, yet their complexion and 
language are very much the same. — The Mexicans 
generally, both men and women, are exceedingly vi- 
vacious; showy and facile, and at the same time shal- 
low in conversation ; extremely fond of dress and toys; 
hospitable when the humor prompts them ; yet indo- 
lent and addicted to every extreme of vicious indul- 
gence ; cowardly, and at the same time cruel ; serv- 
ing rather their appetites, than following the admoni- 
tions of conscience ; and possessing elastic and ac- 
commodating moral principles. Modest, chaste, vir- 

* The Bull-pen ranks among the public buildings of Chihua- 
hua, is situated in the suburbs of the city, is built after the man- 
ner of an amphitheatre, and is spacious enough to contain five 
thousand people. It is circular, and is furnished with tiers of 
seats rising one above the other, the top of the structure 
being flat and sufficiently large to accommodate a vast number 
of spectators. Here the Mexican lancers and gladiators engage 
in combat with the fiercest wild bulls, goaded to madness and 
rendered frantic by repeated thrusts of the lance, for the amuse- 
ment of the people, In such sport do the Mexican people of 
both sexes, delight. This institution is a monstrous type of the 
moral sentiment of the Mexican nation. If, indeed, the morals 
of the Mexicans generally are ascribable to the established re- 
ligion of the country, it is then much to be regretted that such a 
system ever swayed the minds of any people. 
28 " ' ' 


doniphan's expedition. 

tuous, intelligent females are rarely to be met with ; 
yet, notwithstanding they are few, there are some such. 
Many of the females of that country are gifted with 
sprightly minds, possess rare personal beauty, and 
most gentle and winning grace of manners. Their 
lustrous, dark, sparkling eyes, and tresses of glossy, 
black hair, constitute a fair share of their charms. 

Bathing is regarded, in Mexico, as one of the 
choicest luxuries of fashionable life ; to which prac- 
tice both sexes are much addicted. In Chihuahua 
there are many bath-houses, and pools of beautiful 
water, conveniently arranged for public accommoda- 
tion. These are constantly filled by the young and 
gay of both sexes, promiscuously splashing and swim- 
ming about, with their long black hair spread out on 
the water, without one thought of modesty. 

The city of Chihuahua, and the capital of the State, 
was built during the Spanish viceroyalty by the Spanish 
capitalists and nabobs, who were allured thither from 
the south, by the rich mines of gold and silver in the 
neighboring mountains. At present it contains twen- 
ty-five thousand inhabitants. The streets about the 
plaza are neatly paved and curbed. 

The exterior of the plaza, next the streets, is paved 
beautifully w T ith white porphyry, in such manner as 
to form a promenade, furnished with numerous seats 
carved out of solid masses of the same material, hav- 
ing backs to rest against as a sofa. This promenade 
was constructed for evening gossip and recreation. 

In the centre of the plaza mayor stands a square 
structure of hewn marble, about ten feet high, having 
four jets, supplied by a subterranean aqueduct, which 
discharge an abundance of cool and delightful water 



into an octagonal basin, about thirty feet in diameter, 
and three in depth, constructed also of hewn stone, 
laid in cement, and bound firmly together by a joint- 
work of lead, rendering the whole perfectly impervious 
to water. 

The houses in Chihuahua are chiefly constructed 
of the adobe, cornered and fronted with hewn stone, 
having flat roofs, and being two stories high. Many 
of them are in good taste, and furnished in a costly 
manner. The catholic cathedral, a magnificent struc- 
ture, and other public works in the city, are thus 
alluded to by Mr. Gregg, upon whose descriptions it 
were needless to attempt an improvement: 

The most splendid edifice in Chihuahua is the principal 
church, which is said to equal in architectural grandeur 
anything of the sort in the republic. The steeples, of which 
there is one at each front corner rise over one hundred feet 
above the azotea. They are composed of very fancifully 
carved columns ; and in appropriate niches of the frontis- 
piece, which is also an elaborate piece of sculpture, are to 
be seen a number of statues, as large as life, the whole 
forming a complete representation of Christ and the twelve 
apostles. This church was built about a century ago, by 
contributions levied upon the mines of Santa Eulalia, fifteen 
miles from the city, which paid over a per centage on all 
the metal extracted therefrom ; a medio being levied upon 
each marco of eight ounces. In this way about one mil- 
lion of dollars was raised and expended in some thirty years, 
the time employed in the construction of the building. 

A little below the Plaza Mayor, stands the ruins of San 
Francisco — the mere skeleton of another great church of 
hewn stone, which was commenced by the Jesuits previous 
to their expulsion in 1767, but never finished. By the 
outlines still traceable amid the desolation which reigns 
around, it would appear that the plan of this edifice was 


Doniphan's expedition. 

conceived in a spirit of still greater magnificence than the 
Parroquia which I have been describing. The abounding 
architectural treasures that are mouldering and ready to 
tumble to the ground, bear sufficient evidence that the mind 
that had directed its progress, was at once bold, vigorous, 
and comprehensive. 

This dilapidated building has since been converted into 
a sort of state prison, particularly for the incarceration of 
distinguished prisoners. It was here that the principals of 
the famous Santa Fe expedition were confined, when they 
passed through the place, on their way to the city of Mexico. 
This edifice has also acquired considerable celebrity as 
having received within its gloomy embraces several of the 
most distinguished patriots who were taken prisoners during 
the first infant struggles for Mexican independence. Among 
these was the illustrious ecclesiastic, Don Miguel Hidalgo, 
who made the first declaration at the village of Dolores, 
September 16, 1810. He was taken prisoner in March, 
1811, some time after his total defeat at Guadalaxara ; and 
being brought to Chihuahua, he was shot on the 30th of 
July following, in a little square back of the prison, where 
a plain white monument of hewn stone has been erected to 
his memory. It consists of an octagon base of about 
twenty-five feet in diameter, upon which rises a square, 
unornamented pyramid, to the height of about thirty feet. 
The monument, indeed, is not an unapt emblem of the 
purity and simplicity of the curate's character. 

Among the few remarkable objects which attract the 
attention of the traveler, is a row of columns supporting a 
large number of stupendous arches, which may be seen 
from the heights, long before approaching the city from the 
north. This is an aqueduct of considerable magnitude, 
which conveys water from the little river of Chihuahua, to 
an eminence above the town, whence it is passed through 
a succession of pipes to the main public square, where it 
empties itself into a large stone cistern, and by this method 

doniphan's letter. 


the city is supplied with water. This, and other public 
works to be met with in Chihuahua, and m the southern 
cities, are glorious remnants of the prosperous times of the 
Spanish empire. 

The city is supplied with wood and charcoal, 
brought in from the distant mountains on mules and 
asses. The wood is lashed on the backs of these 
docile animals by means of raw-hide thongs, while 
the charcoal is put up into sacks, and secured in like 
manner. One of these Mexican arrieros, or wood- 
men, will enter the city with an atajo of several hun- 
dred of these beasts, each burdened with its cargo of 

Mexican Woodman. 

On the 7th, Col. Doniphan addressed the following 
letter to Major Ryland, of Lexington, Missouri : 

Dear Major : — How often have I again and again deter- 
mined to send you my hearty curses of every thing Mexi- 
can ? But, then I knew that you had seen the sterile and 
miserable country, and its description would be, of course, 
no novelty to you. To give you, however, a brief outline 
of our movements, I have to say, that we have marched to 
Santa Fe, by Bent's Fort ; thence through the country of 


doniphan's expedition. 

the Navajo Indians to the waters of the Pacific ocean; down 
the St. Juan river, the Rio Colarado and the Gila, back again 
to the Rio del Norte ; across the Jornada del Muerto to Bra- 
zito, where we fought the battle of which you have doubt- 
less seen the account ; thence to the town of El Paso del 
Norte, which was taken by us; thence across two other 
Jornadas, and fought the battle of the Sacramento, and have 
sent you herewith, a copy of my official report of the same. 
We are now in the beautiful city of Chihuahua, and myself 
in the palace of Governor Trias. 

My orders are to report to Gen. Wool ; but I now learn, 
that instead of taking the city of Chihuahua, he is shut up 
at Saltillo, by Santa Anna. Our position will be ticklish, if 
Santa Anna should compel Taylor and Wool even to fall 
back. All Durango, Zacatecas and Chihuahua will be down 
upon my little army. We are out of the reach of help, and 
it would be as unsafe to go backward as forward. — High 
spirits and a bold front, is perhaps the best and the safest 
policy. My men are rough, ragged, and ready, having one 
more of the R's than Gen. Taylor himself. We have been 
in service nine months, and my men, after marching two 
thousand miles, over mountains and deserts, have not 
received one dollar of their pay, yet they stand it without 
murmuring. Half rations, hard marches, and no clothes ! 
but they are still game to the last, and curse and praise their 
country by turns, but fight for her all the time. 

No troops could have behaved more gallantly than ours 
in the battle of the Sacramento. When we approached the 
enemy, their numbers and position would have deterred any 
troops, less brave and determined, from the attack ; but as 
I rode from rank to rank, I could see nothing but the stern 
resolve to conquer or die ; — there was no trepidation, and no 
pale faces. I cannot discriminate between companies or 
individuals ; all have done their duty, and done it nobly. 

On the eighth, Dr. Connelly, an American merchant 

major Campbell's return. 


resident in Chihuahua, was sent by Col. Doniphan to 
Parral, to hold an interview with Governor Trias, to 
offer him conditions of peace, and invite him back to 
the capital. The Governor, however, refused to re- 
turn; but appointed three commissioners to confer 
with Col. Doniphan, or w T ith such commissioners as he 
might designate, in regard to concluding an honorable 
peace. Col. Doniphan's desire was to enter into 
treaty stipulations with the authorities of Chihuahua, 
whereby the American merchants, after the payment 
of legal duties, might be suffered to remain in secu- 
rity, and sell their merchandize, and the state be 
bound to remain neutral during the continuance of the 
war. After much delay, all negociation was suspend- 
ed between the parties, without coming to any defi- 
nite agreement on the subject. 

On the 14th Major Campbell, and Forsythe, with 
thirty-eight men, left Chihuahua, with the view of 
returning to the United States by way of the Presidio 
del Rio Grande, and thence across the plains to fort 
Towson on Red River. Without meeting with any 
very serious opposition from the Indians, or other 
cause, this party reached the frontiers of Arkansas in 
safety, where, separating, they returned to their res- 
pective homes. 

On the 18th the American troops at Chihuahua 
received intelligence, through the Mexican papers ana 
by Mexican rumor, of the great battle of Buena Vista 
or Angostura. The Mexicans represented the issue 
of the battle as being entirely favorable to themselves; 
but taking it for granted the American arms were 
victorious, Col. Doniphan ordered a salute to be fired 


Doniphan's expedition. 

in honor of Generals Taylor and Wool, and the brave 
troops under their command. 

Col. Doniphan had been ordered by Gen. Kearney, 
to report to Brigadier-general Wool at Chihuahua. 
Instead of finding Gen. Wool in possession of that 
capital as anticipated, he now had information that 
both he and Gen. Taylor were shut up at Saltillo, and 
hotly beleaguered by Santa Anna, with an overwhelm- 
ing force. Notwithstanding this strait of affairs , Col. 
Doniphan felt it his duty to report to Gen Wool, 
wherever he might be found, and afford him whatever 
succor might be in his power. Therefore on the 20th 
he dispatched an express to Saltillo, bearing commu- 
nications to Gen. Wool. Besides a copy of his 
official report of the battle of Sacramento, was the 
following dispatch : 

Head Quarters of the Army in Chihuahua, > 
City of Chihuahua, March 20, 1847. 5 
Sir : — The forces under my command are a portion of 
the Missouri volunteers, called into service for the purpose 
of invading New Mexico, under the command of Brigadier- 
general (then colonel) Kearney. After the conquest of New 
Mexico, and before General Kearney's departure for Cali- 
fornia, information was received that another regiment and 
an extra battalion of Missouri volunteers would follow us to 
Santa Fe. The services of so large a force being wholly 
unnecessary in that State, I prevailed on General Kearney 
to order my regiment to report to you at this city. The 
order was given on the 23d of September, 1846, but after 
the general had arrived at La Joy a, in the southern part of 
the State, he issued an order requiring my regim'ent to make 
a campaign into the country inhabited by the Navajo In- 
dians, lying between the waters of the Rio del Norte, and 
the Rio Colorado of the west. This campaign detained me 

Doniphan's report. 


until the 14th of December, before our return to the Del 
Norte. We immediately commenced our march for El 
Paso del Norte with about eight hundred riflemen. All 
communication between Chihuahua and New Mexico was 
entirely prevented. On the 25th of December, 1846, my 
van-guard was attacked at Brazito by the Mexican force 
from this State ; our force was about four hundred and fifty, 
and the force of the enemy, eleven hundred ; the engage- 
ment lasted about forty minutes, when the enemy fled, 
leaving sixty three killed and since dead, one hundred and 
fifty wounded, and one howitzer, the only piece of artillery 
in the engagement on either side. On the 27th we entered 
El Paso without further opposition ; from the prisoners and 
others I learned that you had not marched upon this State. 
I then determined to order a battery and one hundred artil- 
lerists from New Mexico. They arrived at El Paso about 
the 5th of February, when we took up the line of march for 
this place. A copy of my official report at the battle of 
Sacramento, enclosed to you, will show you all our subse- 
quent movements up to our taking military possession of 
this capital. The day of my arrival, I had determined to 
send an express to you forthwith ; but the whole interme- 
diate country was in the hands of the enemy, and we were 
cut off, and had been {< r many months, from all information 
respecting the Americaa Army. Mexican reports are never 
to be fully credited ; yet, from all we could learn, we did 
not doubt that you would be forced by overwhelming num- 
bers to abandon Saltillo, and of course we would send no 
express under such circumstances. On yesterday we re- 
ceived the first even tolerably reliable information, that a 
battle had been fought near Saltillo between the American 
and Mexican forces, and that Santa Anna had probably fallen 
back on San Louis de Potosi. 

My position here is exceedingly embarrassing. In the 
first place, most of the men under my command have been 
in service since the 1st of June, have never received one 


Doniphan's expedition. 

cent of pay. Their marches have been hard, especially in 
the Navajo country, and no forage ; so that they are liter- 
ally without horses, clothes, or money, having no- 
thing but arms and a disposition to use them. They are 
all volunteers, officers and men, and although ready for any 
hardships or danger, are wholly unfit to garrison a town or 
city. " It is confusion worse confounded." Having per- 
formed a march of more than two thousand miles, and their 
term of service rapidly expiring, they are restless to join 
the army under your command. Still we cannot leave this 
point safely for some days — the American merchants here 
oppose it violently, and have several hundred thousand dol- 
lars at stake. They have sent me a memorial, and my de- 
termination has been made known to them. A copy of 
both they will send you. Of one thing it is necessary to 
inform you : the merchants admit that their goods could not 
be sold here in five years ; if they go south they will be as 
near the markets of Durango and Zacatecas as they now are. 
I am anxious and willing to protect the merchants as far as 
practicable ; but I protest against remaining here as a mere 
wagon-guard, to garrison a city with troops wholly unfitted 
for it, and who will be soon wholly ruined by improper in- 
dulgences. Having been originally ordered to this point, 
you know the wishes of the government in relation to it, 
and of course your orders will be promptly and cheerfully 
obeyed. I fear there is ample use for us with you, and we 
would greatly prefer joining you before our term of service 

All information relative to my previous operations, pre- 
sent condition, &c, will be give nyou by Mr. J. Collins, the 
bearer of dispatches. He is a highly honorable gentleman, 
and was an amateur soldier at Sacramento, Very respect- 
fully your obedient servant, 


Colonel 1st Regiment Missouri Cavalry 
Brigadier-general Wool, U. S. Army. 



The following letters, written by the author to a 
friend in Missouri, will show the progress and adven- 
tures of the express-party, from the time of their 
leaving Chihuahua, on the 20th of March, until their 
return, on the 23d of April. 

Head Quarters, Army of Occupation, ) 
Saltillo, April 4th, 1847. 5 

Mr. Miller : — It has been just one month since I wrote 
you from the city of Chihuahua. I am now in Saltillo, the 
capital of the State of Coahuila — -the camp of Generals 
Taylor and Wool, six hundred and seventy -five miles from 
Col. Doniphan's army./ Briefly, and without embellish- 
ment, I will relate the story of our adventures before 
arriving here. The important work of opening a commu- 
nication between the Army of the West, now in Chihuahua, 
and the Army of Occupation in and near Saltillo, was 
entrusted to the hands of the following fourteen men, viz : 
/4* L. Collins, interpreter and bearer of dispatches ; T. 
Bradford, T. H. Massie, T. Harrison, J. Sanderson, I. 
Walker, R. D. Walker, S. Asbury, J. Andrews, G. Brown, 
J. Lewis, J. Moutray, R. W. Fleming, and myself, escort^ 
There never was a more dangerous and arduous undertaking 
accomplished with better success by the same number of 
men. Every foot of the route led through the enemy's 
country, and was attended with imminent peril. We left 
Chihuahua on the 20th of March, and having performed 
almost the entire march by night, over stupendous moun- 
tains clad with horrible cactus and the maguey, and through 
vallies of mezquite, we arrived here safely on the 2d of 
April. We may very properly be styled the night riders 
of Mexico. We traveled about fifty miles per day, by 
the following route, from Chihuahua to the rancho Ba- 
chimbo, thence to San Pablo, thence to Soucillo, on the 
main branch of the river Conchos ; here we attempted to 
diverge to the left, and cross the arid plains by a traversia 


Doniphan's expedition. 

(by-path,j leading to the city of Monclova, but having 
traveled two days and nights in the deserts and mountains, 
without one drop of water, and having used our utmost 
exertions to find the noted watering places, " Coutevo " and 
" Agua Chele " unsuccessfully, we were compelled to return 
to the river Conchos at Soucillo, to avoid perishing of 
thirst, on the arid plains. Just before returning to the 
Conchos, we thought we would make one more effort to 
discover water. Messrs. Collins, Massie, Bradford, and 
myself, ascended a high mountain, and as we thought, 
beheld a lake of water some five or six miles distant./ We 
were confident we could see the banks of the lake and the 
green verdure circling the water's edge, as well as the waves 
rolling before the gentle wind. With revived hearts we 
set out for the refreshing element. We traveled and trav- 
eled, but the lake receded. At length we came upon a 
glassy sand beach, (the bed of a dry lake,) and the water, 
or mirage appeared behind and around us ; we were pur- 
suing a phantom. We were perishing with internal heat 
and thirst. It was growing dark, and there was no prospect 
of obtaining water without returning to the river Conchos. 
Accordingly we turned about and started for the river, and 
having rode hard all night and until sunrise next morning, 
we arrived at the transparent, cool, refreshing stream. — 
Great God ! what a blessing to man hast thou made this 
one element, and how poorly does he appreciate it until he 
is cast off upon the desert ! 

We passed from Soucillo to La Cruz, thence to Santa 
Rosalia on the Rio Florida. This town contains about five 
thousand inhabitants. We passed rancho Enramida, rancho 
Blanco, and Guajuquilla. Three commissioners were sent 
out to inquire into our business ; but having told them we 
intended to pass peaceably through the country, they per. 
mitted us to pass unmolested. This region of the country 
is majestically barren — there is a grandeur in the very des- 
olation around you. The eternal mountains, with the 



cactus bristling on their sides, shut out the horizon, the 
rising and setting sun, and lift their bald rocky summits 
high in the azure of heaven. /'Becoming satisfied that every 
effort would be made to rob us of our papers and send us 
as prisoners to Durango, we halted near a gorge in the 
mountains, and examined and burnt all the letters of our 
friends, and every other paper and letter of introduction, 
which we had, except Col. Doniphan's official communica- 
tions to Gen. Wool, and these we sewed up in the pad of 
one of our saddles. This we did, that nothing might be 
found in our possession that would betray us as express 
men, in the event we should fall into the hands of the 
enemy, which we had great reason to apprehend. We 
passed the city of Malpimi, in Durango, about midnight. 
On the 29th we beheld a cloud of dust before us, and saw 
various companies of animals, which looked very much 
like companies of cavalry. We at first supposed it was 
Gen. Martinez, of Durango, returning to Malpimi after the 
battle of Saltillo. Of course we felt the necessity of 
avoiding them, and accordingly directed our course towards 
the mountains. At length we were able to discover that, 
instead of being cavalry, it was several large atajos of pack- 
mules on their way from Monterey to Chihuahua, with 
peloncillo (cake sugar) for sale. About sundown we arrived 
at San Sebastian on the Rio Nazas, where we stopped to 
prepare a little coffee. Don Ignacio Jimenez, a wealthy 
and influential citizen of the place, collected about one hun- 
dred men together, and notified us that he had orders from 
the authorities of Durango to stop us and make us prisoners. 
Collins says " well, what are you going to do about it. " — 
Jirmenez replies "I shall put the order into execution." 
Collins — " I am going, and you can use your pleasure about 
stopping us. " Jirmenez — " Have you and your men pass 
ports." Collins — "Yes, sir, we have." Jirmenez — 
" Let me see them. " Collins, holding his rifle in one 
hand and revolver in the other — " These are our passports, 


Doniphan's expedition. 

sir, and we think they are sufficient. V This ended the 
parley. We buckled on our pistols and bowie-knives, 
shouldered our rifles, and left sans ceremonie. We travel- 
ed all night and all next day until sunset, and having arrived 
near the base of a high mountain, in the State of Coahuila, 
we stopped again to take some refreshment, and graze our 
animals a moment. While taking our coffee, this same 
Ignacio Jirmenez surrounded us, with a band of seventy- 
five well armed men, and no doubt with the view of first 
murdering and then plundering us. We quickly formed a 
line of battle, heavily charged our holsters, revolvers and 
rifles, and through our interpreter gave him the Spartan 
reply : " Here we are, if you want us come and take us ! " 
After curveting and manoeuvering around us near an hour, 
during which time we gained the base of the mountain, he 
concluded we were a stubborn set to deal with, and accord- 
ingly took the prudent plan of withdrawing his forces. 
There was but one sentiment in our little band, and that 
was to fight until the last man expired. About midnight 
we arrived at El Poso, where we purchased corn for our 
animals and took a little rest, as we had traveled night and 
day since we left Chihuahua. 

Without further difficulty, except the failure of some of 
our animals, we arrived at the large and beautiful hacienda 
of Don Manuel Ybarro, near the city of Parras. Manuel 
was educated in Bardstown, Kentucky, is a friend to the 
Americans, and received us kindly. He gave us all the in- 
formation we desired about the American troops and the 
battle of Buena Vista. After showing us his fine houses, 
gardens with roses richly blooming, and premises generally 
he gave us comfortable quarters during the night, a fresh 
supply of mules, and a guide through the mountains, h 
order to expedite our march to Gen. Wool's camp. Ybarro 
speaks good English, is a full American in feeling, and 
merits our highest approbation for his disinterested, kind 
treatment. — Without the occurrence of any very remarka- 


ble incident we passed, by a very rocky, rugged, mountain- 
ous traversia, the haciendas Castanuella and the Florida, 
and arrived in Saltillo at sunset on the 2d of April. Oar 
dispatches were forthwith delivered to Gen. Wool, but as 
Gen. Taylor, who has just gone to Monterey, is in command 
of this branch of the army, the dispatches were sent to him, 
early on the morning of the 3d of April. Respectfully, 


- Saltillo, April 5th, 1847. 

Mr. Miller: — This day Mr. Collins and myself, accom- 
panied by Gen. Wool's chief engineer, rode over the great 
battle-field of Buena Vista, where Gen. Taylor with five 
thousand men, mostly volunteers, measured his strength 
with Gen. Santa Anna at the head of twenty-two thousand 
of the best troops Mexico ever sent into the field. Gen 
Taylor, for having defeated and almost annihilated the 
flower of the Mexican army with so slender a force, 
deserves the gratitude of the American people. Nor do the 
brave men who fought with him, deserve less. 

An awful melancholy creeps over the soul, and deeply 
stirs the feelings, and opens the fountains of sympathy, as 
you pass over the ground covered with the mutilated dead, 
and dyed with the blood of friend and foe. As Santa Anna 
says in his official report, "The ground is" truly "strewed 
with the dead, and the blood has flowed in torrents'" We 
stood one moment on the spot where Col. Yell of Arkansas 
yielded up his life for his country, and then admiringly 
turned to view the ground still crimsoned by the blood of 
Col. Hardin of Illinois, and Cols. McKee and Clay of Ken- 
tucky. The blood of the gallant dead was still red on the 
rocks around us. — Here the last prayer, and the last throb- 
bings of many a noble heart were hushed in death forever. 

The engineer pointed us to a place where the Mexican 
general had marshaled his host with a bristling forest of 


doniphan's expedition. 

flittering steel. The costly trappings of the officers and 
the bright bayonets of the men, glistened in the sheen of the 
sun. He then showed us where Washington's, Bragg's, 
Sherman's and O'Brien's batteries, with thundering roar, 
mowed down the enemy's advancing columns ; and where 
the chivalrous Kentuckians, the gallant Mississippians, the 
indomitable Illinoisans, the much abused Indianians, and 
other equally courageous volunteer troops, dashed into the 
Mexican lines, opening wide breaches and spreading fear- 
ful havoc amongst their successively advancing squadrons. 
The half- was ted frames of the Mexican soldiers yet lay 
profusely scattered over the plateau where the armies of the 
two republics disputed for supremacy. 

Sadly we returned to Gen. Wool's tent from the field of his 
glorious strife. He conversed freely, and pleasantly com- 
municated to us important information respecting his great 
battle. He read to us his official account of the action ; 
after which he made this flattering statement in relation to 
the conduct of the "Army of the West;" — "Missouri has 
acquitted herself most gloriously. Col. Doniphan has 
fought the most fortunate battle, and gained the most bril- 
liant victory, which has been achieved during the war. 
I have every confidence in the bravery and gallantry of the 
troops under his command. Would to God I had them 
and their artillery here ! Santa Anna might then return to 
Buena Vista and welcome." Respectfully, 


Chihuahua, April 25th, 1847. 
Mr. Miller : — On the 9th of April, General Taylor's 
dispatches to Col. Doniphan, arrived at Saltillo by the hands 
of Major Howard. Coh Doniphan is ordered to march 
with his column forthwith to Saltillo, and return to the 
United States by way of Matamoras and the Gulf. For the 
safe conveyance of the orders, and the protection of the ex* 


press-men, Gen. Wool sent Capt. Pike of the Arkansas cav- 
alry with twenty-six men to act as an escort or convoy. 
We were also accompanied by Mr. Gregg, author of "Com- 
merce on the Prairies," having along a set of astronomical 
instruments, for taking the latitude and longitude of places. 
Our party being now increased to forty-two men, and pro- 
vided with a fresh stock of animals, we left Saltillo on the 
9th, and on the same day arrived at Florida, a small town, 
about forty miles distant. From thence we passed thirty- 
five miles to Castanuella, where we met with a very hos- 
pitable Irish lady, who had married a Mexican. Here we 
saw a man singularly deformed. His head and body were 
of the ordinary size for a man ; but his arms and legs were 
only about eighteen inches long. His appearance, when 
he made an attempt to walk, was very singular, for he could 
scarcely get along, except where the ground was quite level. 
When mounted on horseback his appearance was still more 
strange. This man had a wife and children. From thence 
passing through the mountains, we came to the princely es- 
tate of Don Manuel Ybarro, and again enjoyed his kind 
hospitalities, and received numerous instances of his disin- 
terested, marked friendship, for which our cordial thanks 
and grateful acknowledgments are due. Thence in three 
days we traveled about one hundred and ten miles, and came 
to Alimeto, having passed El Poso, San Nicolas, and San 
Lorenzo. Here we encamped in the plaza, and took pos- 
session of two small cannon. This place contains about 
fifteen hundred inhabitants, and is situated in the valley of 
the Rio Nazas. The next day we traveled about forty 
miles, and came to the canon in the mountains of Mapimi, 
where we staid for the night. This day it rained copiously. 
While at this place commissioners came from Mapimi to in- 
quire if our intentions were pacific ; that otherwise we could 
not be permitted to pass. Capt. Pike replied to them : — 
" We intend to molest nothing. It is the custom of Ameri- 
cans to respect life and the rights of property. At all haz 


doniphan's expedition. 

ards, however, we intend to pass on our way." The next 
morning as we approached Mapimi, two of the deputies 
came out and entreated Capt. Pike not to pass through the 
town. Not knowing what forces might be concealed in the 
place, (for troops had recently been stationed there,) he took 
their counsel. We therefore proceeded on our way, and 
that night arrived at Jarilito, a deserted town, after a 
march of thirty-seven miles. We were now scant of pro- 
visions. The following morning we proceeded about nine 
miles to the Salt Spring, where finding a drove of wild 
Mexican cattle, we pounced in amongst them with our rifles 
and soon had enough of beef to supply a small army. Af- 
ter a few hours rest, and a little refreshment we started for 
the Rio Cerro Gordo, a distance of thirty miles, where we 
arrived at sunset. 

On the morning of the 18th, after a progress of ten miles 
we came to the Green Springs, near a canon in the moun- 
tains, which the Mexicans dignify with the title of Santa 
Bernada. Near this stands a deserted rancho. Having 
nooned and regaled ourselves a little under the shade of the 
Alamos, we launched out upon the desert or Jornada, sev- 
enty-five miles without water. This desert extends to Gna- 
juquilla from Santa Bernada. Having completed about 
forty-five miles this day, we encamped for the night on the 
plain, without wood or water. The next day, having trav- 
eled about twenty-five miles, and by this time being very 
thirsty, we overhauled a train of wagons belonging to one 
Minos, a Mexican, some of which contained oranges and 
peloncillo from Zacatecas, designed for the markets of Par- 
ral and Chihuahua. Eagerly we purchased a supply of 
oranges, and sucked the luscious juice from that delicious 
fruit. Now revived and re invigorated, we pressed forward 
to Guajuquilla, a town on the Rio Florida, containing four 
thousand inhabitants, where we quartered in a spacious cor- 
ral, well adapted for defence, and stationed out anight guard. 
These people were not friendly, but they durst not attack 



us, through fear. Here we found several Americans, who 
had met with a singularly hard fate. They gave me this 
recital of their misfortunes : — " Twenty-one of us were in 
the employ of Speyers and Amijo, who traveled under 
British passports. They promised us protection, but upon 
our arrival at Chihuahua we were all made prisoners, and 
under strict guards conducted in the direction of the city of 
Mexico. On arriving at the little town of Zarcas we effect- 
ed our escape by night, and attempted to penetrate into 
Texas by way of Mapimi, Laguna del Tagualila, and thence 
to the Rio Grande. Having traveled fourteen days in the 
arid deserts between Mapimi and the Rio Grande, mostly 
without water or provision, eleven of our number perished 
miserably of thirst and fatigue, and the other ten, changing 
their course, and subsisting upon the flesh of the only re- 
maining horse we had, finally succeeded in reaching Guaju- 
quiila." We took one of the survivors to Chihuahua ; the 
others remained, having no means of traveling. 

Thence passing Enramada, Santa Rosalia, and San Pablo, 
we arrived at Bachimbo, thirty-six miles from Chihuahua, 
on the 22d, and making an early start the next morning, we 
hastened forward to rejoin our companions in the capital. 
When we had approached within about five miles of the 
city, we beheld at a distance a great cloud of dust rising in 
front of us. We could not at first conceive the purport of 
all this. In a few moments, however, a body of horsemen 
were seen in the distance, making towards us with great 
haste. We were now impressed with the belief that it was 
either a body of Mexican guerrilieros endeavoring to cut us 
off from any communication with the army, or Colonel 
Doniphan's picket guard, who, mistaking us for a party of 
Mexicans, had dashed out in the hopes of a skirmish. At 
first Captain Pike halted the little column to make an obser- 
vation. But were soon very pleasantly undeceived ; for, 
the body of horsemen turned out to be a company of our 
friends, who hearing of our approach, had come to greet us 

348 doniphan's expedition. 

and offer us a new relay of horses. Colonel Doniphan had 
thrice been solemnly assured that the express party were 
all either killed, or made prisoners and sent to Durango to 
undergo the most cruel tortures, and had accordingly issued 
orders to his troops to evacuate the capital on the 25th, and 
return to the United States by way of Presidio del Rio 
Grande and San Antonio in Texas. We now entered 
Chihuahua amidst the deafening peals of the great church 
bells, the firing of artillery, and the cordial welcomes and 
heartfelt congratulations of friends, who pressed around to 
shake us by the hands and inquire what were the orders 
from Generals Taylor and Wool. Colonel Doniphan, 
having unsealed the dispatches, announced to his soldiers 
that he was required to march forthwith to Saltillo, 
where he would receive further orders. 

Respectfully, JOHN T. HUGHES. 


Departure of the Army for Saltillo — Mexican girls — The 
Merchants — Arrival at Santa Rosalia — Mitchell's Advance — 
Guajuquilla — The Jornada — Palayo and Mapimi — Death of 
Lieutenant Jackson — San Sebastian and San Lorenzo — Mrs. 
McGoffin — Battle of El Poso — Don Manuel Ybarro — Parras 
— Review of the Army by Gen. Wool — Reception by Gen. 

It was Colonel Doniphan's intention, when he dis- 
patched the express to Saltillo, to move his forces to 
San Pablo, in the valley of the Conchos, or to Santa 
Rosalia, according as he might find forage, leaving 
only such a garrison in Chihuahua as would be suffi- 
cient to afford protection to the American merchants. 

Conformably to this design, on the 5th of April, the 
2d battalion, under Major Gilpin, and the battalion 
of artillery, under Major Clark, (which now consisted 
of two companies commanded by Weightman and 
Hudson, the latter, having charge of the Mexican 
pieces,) were ordered to proceed to San Pablo. The 
1st battalion, under Lieutenant-colonel Jackson, was 
soon to succeed them. On the 9th, however, Colonel 
Doniphan, while at San Pablo, received a communi- 
cation from Hicks, an American at Parral, advising 
him that a strong Mexican force was on the march 
from Durango to Chihuahua, to recover the capital, 
and seize the goods of the American merchants. Col. 
Doniphan, not suspecting but such a project was in 
contemplation, from the rumors and statements which 



Doniphan's expedition. 

had come to him, determined to return and hold pos- 
session of the capital, until he should hear from Gen. 
Wool. Jackson's battalion did not leave the city. 

Meanwhile the American merchants had established 
themselves on the most active and busy streets of the 
city, and were using every exertion to effect sales of 
their immense merchandize ; for, as yet, it was uncer- 
tain what the orders of Gen. Wool to Col. Doniphan 
would be, and to what extent their interest might be 
affected. Many of them had embarked largely in the 
trade, and it was essential to dispose of their goods 
mainly before the army, (which for months had acted 
as a guard and convoy to their trains,) should receive 
orders to evacuate the place. Business soon became 
moderately brisk, and the majority of them were suc- 
cessful in disposing of their heavy stocks. The 
aggregate amount of the importation for the year, 
could not have been less than one million and a 
half of dollars, at the Chihuahua prices. 

" For fifty-nine days, " observes an intelligent vol- 
unteer, "we held full and undisturbed possession of 
the city, keeping up strict discipline with a constant 
guard, consisting of a camp and picket guard, and a 
patrol during the whole night, visiting every part of 
the city. Various rumors were afloat of the intended 
march of the enemy, to attack us, and sometimes 
report said, that there were several thousand on the 
road ; but it is certain, that if we had remained in 
the place until this day, they never would have ap- 
proached it, w 7 ith any force, less than eight or ten 
thousand; and, having the advantage of the houses 
and walls, a less number never could have driven us 
from the city. The rights of the citizens there, as in 


every other place, were duly respected ; and their 
conduct since our departure up to the latest accounts 
shows, that this treatment was not lost upon them ; for 
several traders who remained there, have been well 
treated and their rights duly regarded.'' 

Every preparation having been completed by the 
indefatigable exertions of the quartermaster, and offi- 
cers of subsistence, which was necessary for the long 
and arduous march to Saltillo, a distance of six hun- 
dred and seventy-five miles, through an arid and 
desolate country, the battalion of artillery commenced 
the march on the 25th of April, and was succeeded 
on the following day by the first battalion. These 
were to await the rear, and the merchant and baggage 
trains, at Santa Rosalia, one hundred and twenty miles 
from Chihuahua. 

On the morning of the 28th, a scene of the most 
busy and animating nature ensued. The Americans 
Avere actively engaged in hastening preparations foi 
their departure. The Mexicans, with their serapes 
thrown around them, were standing at the corners of 
the streets in groups, speculating as to the future. 
The long trains of baggage and provision wagons 
were stretching out towards the south. Part of the 
merchant trains were moving off in the direction of 
New Mexico, taking with them little, however, except 
their specie, or bullion. The 2d battalion, with colors 
thrown to the breeze, was anxiously awaiting the order 
to march. 

Certain of the fair Mexican girls, who had conceived 
an unconquerable attachment for some favorite para- 
mour of the Anglo-saxon race, with " blue eyes and 
fair hair," dressed in the habit of Mexican youths, 


doniphan's expedition. 

were gaily dashing through the streets on their curvet- 
ing steeds. They accompanied their lovers on the 
march to Saltillo, and bivouacked with them on the 

About ten o'clock, Col. Doniphan, having delivered 
over to the city authorities the Mexican prisoners, cap- 
tured at Sacramento, to be disposed of by them as 
deemed advisable for the public good, quietly evacua- 
ted the capital, leaving the government in the hands of 
its former rulers. — About ten American merchants re- 
mained, and trusted their lives to the iC magnanimous 
Mexican people." These were chiefly such men as 
had great knowledge of the Mexican customs and lan- 
guage, and had taken the oath of allegiance to that 
government. The magnificent, architectural beauty 
of the city, was left wholly unimpaired, and the 
property of the citizens uninjured. 

Two days after Col. Doniphan's departure from 
Chihuahua, the American merchants, who remained, 
entered into a treaty stipulation with the city authori- 
ties, whereby they agreed to pay the legal rates of 
duty upon their entire importation of goods, both sold 
and unsold. They were to be amply protected in 
their rights and liberty. The conditions of this treaty 
have been fully complied with by the Mexicans, 
except in one single instance. On the 23d of June, 
a band of ruffians violently entered the store-room of 
James Aull, of Lexington, (Mo.) and having brutally 
assassinated him, plundered the house of five thousand 
dollars. The assassins were subsequently apprehen- 
ded, and thrown into prison, but we have not learned 
that they received the punishment due to their crimes. 
The other company of merchants returned to Santa Fe 



by way of Coralitus, and Ojo Vacca, leaving El Paso 
to the east. — Thence they returned to Independence, 
where they arrived in the month of July. 

Col. Doniphan, by unparalleled marches, overtook 
the advance at Santa Rosalia, on the 1st of May, hav- 
ing in four days passed Bachimbo, Santa Cruz, Sou- 
cillo, and completed one hundred and twenty miles. 
Santa Rosalia contains about five thousand inhabitants, 
and is situated at the junction of the Conchos and 
Florida rivers. Here the Mexican forces under Gen. 
Heredia had thrown up a line of fortifications, entirely 
surrounding the city, except where the rivers and the 
bluffs were impassable, strengthened by an almost im- 
pregnable fortress. On the outside of the embank- 
ments were intrenchments, impassable by cavalry. 
These embankments were also strengthened by nu- 
merous bastions, in which cannon were to be employed. 

Some assert that these fortifications were thrown up 
to defend the place against the approach of Gen. 
Wool, who was expected to pass that way on his 
march upon Chihuahua. Others aver that it was the 
intention of the Mexicans, if defeated at Sacramento^ 
to remove the public archives, and all their munitions 
of war, into this strong hold, and there make a despe- 
rate stand : but that losing all their cannon and ineans 
of defence in the action of the 28th, they abandoned 
their purpose. It is true, however, that extensive 
preparations had been made to defend the city against 
an invading army. 

On the 2d, Lieutenant-colonel Mitchell, with a de- 
tachment of twenty-six men under Capt. Pike, of the 
Arkansas cavalry, and seventy men under Capt. Reid, 
left the main body of the army, and proceeded in 


doniphan's expedition. 

advance to Parras, a distance of near five hundred 
miles. The movements of the main column, however, 
were so rapid that the pioneer party, in case of any 
sudden emergency, could have fallen back upon it for 
support. The object of this reconnoitering party was 
to obtain the earliest information of either a covert 
or open enemy, who might meditate an attack upon 
the trains, or seize upon some favorable moment to 
surprise the army ; and also to procure at Parras such 
supplies as might be necessary for the use of the men 
and animals. 

After a hasty march of sixty miles in two days we 
came to Guajuquilla, on the Rio Florida, containing 
an industrious and agricultural population, where we 
obtained an abundance of forage. Here, also, the 
soldiers purchased chickens, pigs, cheese, eggs, bread, 
wine, and a variety of vegetables. 

At this place there are a great number of beautiful 
canals, which convey the most lovely and delightful 
streams of water through the whole town and neigh- 
boring fields and gardens. The fields of green wheat, 
the garden shrubbery, the quivering leaves of the ala- 
mos, and the rippling streamlets of cool, transparent 
water, seemed to invite the war-worn soldier to linger 
amidst the charming scene, and even aVaken in his 
mind thoughts of home, and the green bowers of his 
native country. This valley, if properly cultivated, 
would yield a support for a dense population. The 
soil is fertile, and the nature of the ground is such that 
it is susceptible of complete irrigation. 

Early the next day the commander moved his forces 
up the river about six miles, to the Hacienda Dolores. 
Here he allowed them a short respite, ordered them 



to prepare provisions, and fill their canteens with water 
before commencing the march over the desert, upon 
which they were now to enter. This desert is seventy- 
five miles over, extending to the Santa Bernada spring; 
and the road is terrible by reason of the dust. The 
troops having taken a few hours rest, and a little refresh- 
ment, launched out in long files upon the jornada, fol- 
lowed by all the baggage, provision, and merchant 
trains, a great cloud of dust hanging heavily and 
gloomily along the line of march. 

After sunset a sullen and lowering cloud arose in 
the south-west, heavily charged with electric fluid, and 
with frequent flashes of lightning, and hoarse, distant 
thunder, swept majestically over the rocky summits of 
the detached mountains, which everywhere traverse the 
elevated plains of Mexico. Heavy, gloomy, pitchy 
darkness enveloped the earth. The road could only 
be seen, when revealed by a sudden flash of lightning. 
The pennons continued to stream and flutter in the 
wild gales of the desert. These, together with the 
rising column of dust, served as guides to the soldiers 
in the rear. The artillery rumbled over the rocks, 
and the fire sparkled beneath the wheeJs. At length 
heavy sleep and fatigue oppressed many ; but the night 
march on the desert was still continued. It were 
folly to halt, for no water could be obtained. The 
soldiers were greatly wearied ; some of them almost 
fell from their horses. Some dropped their arms, and 
were necessitated to search f .ter them, while the rest 
marched by, wagged their \eads, and made sport and 
laughter. Some stragglea ofFand lay down upon the 
desert, overpowered by sleep. Some, gifted with a 
richer fund of wit, a finer flow of spirits, a nobler store 


doniphan 9 s expedition. 

of mental treasure, and more physical endurance, 
sang Yankee Doodle, love songs, and related stories 
to the groups that gathered round, as it were, to ex- 
tract one spark of life to aid them on the march. About 
midnight a halt was ordered. The tired and sleepy 
soldiers tethered their animals, and lay down in the 
dark promiscuously, on the desert, where-ever they 
chanced to find a smooth spot of earth. They took 
no supper that night. 

There are a great many lizards in Chihuahua and Du- 
rango, and it appeared as if this desert was their head- 
quarters; for they crept into the men's blankets and bed- 
ding and annoyed them greatly while sleeping. Sud- 
denly aroused from slumber by these slimy companions, 
the soldiers would sometimes shake their blankets, 
toss the scorpions and lizards, and alacrans, upon their 
sleeping neighbors, exclaiming angrily, " d — n the 
scorpion family." The others, half overpowered by 
sleep, would sullenly articulate, u don't throw your 
d — n-d lizards here." Thus they lay, more anxious 
to obtain a little slumber, than to escape a swarm of 
these repulsive reptiles. 

The march was commenced early the next morning. 
The dust was absolutely intolerable. The soldiers 
could not march in lines. They were now already 
become thirsty, and it was V*»* forty miles to water. 
The dust filled their mouths, and nostrils, and eyes, 
and covered them completely. They were much dis- 
tressed during the whole day. Many of them became 
faint, and their tongues swollen. The horses, and 
often the stubborn and refractory mules, would fail in 
the sand, and neither the spur nor the point of the 
sabre was sufficient to stimulatle them. Sometimes 



the volunteer, boiling with ire, would dismount and 
attempt to drag the sullen mule along by the lariat. 
How earnestly he then desired once more to be in the 
land of gushing fountains, verdant groves, rail roads, 
steam boats and telegraphic wires ! 

The teamsters, and those with the artillery, and the 
animals, suffered extremely. But they endured it all 
with patience. After suffering every hardship, priva- 


doniphan's expedition. 

tion and distress by marching, which men must neces- 
sarily experience in passing such a desert, they ar- 
rived at the spring, Santa Bernada, at sunset. Here 
is a grove of willows and alamos. These afforded a 
pleasant shade. There is also at this place a copious 
gushing spring, which furnished an abundance of 
water for the men and the animals. This spot, with its 
groves and springs, disrobed of all poetry, proved in 
reality to be an oasis, a smiling, inviting retreat in a 
desert, desolate, treeless waste of sand, rocks and 
naked mountains. Here the soldiers took rest and 

On the 6th of May the army advanced into the state 
of Durango, at the Cerro Gordo. This river termi- 
nates in Laguna de Xacco. The following day we 
arrived at the outpost, Palayo, where our advance had 
the previous day taken some horses and a few Mexi- 
can soldiers. This small military station is about 
one league from the town of Jarrilito, which is now 
entirely deserted on account of the depredations and 
incursions of the Comanches. Since 1835 the Indians 
have encroached upon the frontiers of Mexico and laid 
waste many flourishing settlements, waging a preda- 
tory warfare, and leading women and children into 
captivity. In fact the whole of Mexico is a frontier. 
An elevated Table Plain extends from the gulf of 
Mexico to the foot of the Cordilleras, intersected by in- 
numerable ranges of mountains, and clustering, isola- 
ted and conical-shaped peaks, invariably infested by 
bands of savages, and still fiercer Mexican banditti. 
No effort of the Mexican government has been able to 
suppress and oust these ruthless invaders of the 



At Palayo some of the men killed a few beeves, 
pigs and chickens, belonging to the Mexicans, and 
feasted upon them at night. There was much to pal- 
liate this offence. The regiment had been marched 
at the rate of thirty-five or forty miles per day, over a 
dusty, desert country, almost entirely destitute of 
water. Most of the men had not had a pound of meat 
for the last three days. Besides the exigency of the 
case, the State of Durango was at that very moment 
in arms against us. Would the most scrupulously 
moral man in Missouri denounce his son as a thief and 
a robber, because, after traveling more than three 
thousand miles by land, and having spent the last cent 
of his slender resources for bread, coldly neglected 
by his government, he found it necessary to kill an 
ox or a pig to satisfy hunger, or should think proper 
to mount himself on a Mexican horse, in a country 
which the prowess of his own arm had been instru- 
mental in subduing? It is one thing for the philoso- 
pher to sit in his studio and spin out his finely drawn 
metaphysical doctrines, and another, and entirely 
different thing, to put them in practice under every 
adverse circumstance. What is most beautiful in 
theory, is not always wisest in practice. 

On the 8th, the command reached the Hacienda 
Cadenas, twenty-four miles from Palayo. Here we 
obtained the first information of Gen. Scott's great 
victory at Cerro Gordo. At such welcome tidings a 
thrilling sensation of joy pervaded our camp. Here 
we took possession of another piece of cannon, which, 
although well mounted, Col. Doniphan restored to the 
inhabitants. On the 9th, a march of twenty-two miles 
brought us to the city of Mapimi, which had steadily 


Doniphan's expedition. 

manifested the greatest hostility to the Americans. 
This is a mining town. It has five furnaces for smelt- 
ing silver ore, and one for smelting lead ore. It is 
one of the richest towns in the State, excepting the 
capital. The Mexican forces, three thousand strong, 
fled from Ma pi mi and Durango upon our approach, 
and left the state completely in our power, had Gen. 
Wool but permitted us to visit the capital. General 
Heredia, and Governor Ochoa of Durango, wrote to 
Santa Anna to send them twenty pieces of cannon and 
five thousand regular troops, or the state of Durango 
would immediately fall into the hands of Col. Doni- 
phan's regiment, if he saw proper to direct his march 
against it. Upon our arrival at Mapimi we obtained 
more certain intelligence of the victory of the American 
forces over the Mexicans at Cerro Gordo, in honor of 
which a national salute of twenty-eight guns was fired 
by Weightman's battery. Here, also, a copy of Gov. 
Ochoa's proclamation was found, in w T hich he earnestly 
exhorted the inhabitants of Durango never to cease 
warring until they had repelled the " North American 
invaders " from the soil of Mexico. 

This day's march had been excessively hot and 
suffocating, and extremely severe upon the sick. Just 
before reaching Mapimi, 2d Lieutenant Stephen Jack- 
son, of Howard, died of an inveterate attack of 
typhoid fever. Lieutenant Jackson was taken ill in 
the Navajo country, and had never entirely recovered. 
He was not at the battle of Brazito, being at that time 
sick in Soccorro ; but he afterwards fought with great 
bravery in the more important action at Sacramento. 
His corpse was interred (on Sunday the 9th) with 
appropriate military honors. Also, the priest of Ma 



pimi in his robes, with the Bible in his hands, and 
three boys dressed in white pelisses, two of them 
bearing torches, and the third in the centre with a 
crucifix reared upon a staff, preceded the bier, first to 
the catholic church, and then to the grave, at both of 
which places the catholic ceremonies were performed. 

On the 10th we made a powerful march of near 
forty miles to San Sebastian on the Rio Nazas. The 
heat and dust were almost insufferable. Don Ignacio 
Jermanez, who attempted to capture the express-men, 
fled to the city of Durango. The army foraged upon 
him for the night, w T ith the promise to pay him in 
powder and ball at sight. The Rio Nazas is a beau- 
tiful stream, full of fish, and empties into the three 
lakes, Tagualila, Las Abas, and Del Alamo. During 
this fatiguing march, two men, King and Ferguson, 
died of sickness, heat and suffocation. They were 
buried at San Sebastian. 

On the 11th the command marched to San Lorenzo, 
a distance of thirty-five miles, along a heavy, dusty 
road, hedged in by an immense and almost imper- 
vious chaparral. The heat was absolutely oppressive 
— water scarce. In this thick chaparral, Canales, with 
a band of about four hundred robbers, had concealed 
himself with the view of cutting off stragglers from 
our army, and committing depredations upon our 
merchant and provision trains. But our method of 
marching with the artillery and one battalion in front, 
and the other battalion in rear of the trains and droves 
of mules, anticipated his pre-meditated attack. After 
our arrival in San Lorenzo, a Mexican courier came 
to the colonel with news that Canales had made an 
attack upon McGoffin's train of wagons, and that Mc- 


Doniphan's expedition. 

Goffin and his lady were likely to fall into his hands. 
A detachment of sixty men under Lieut. Gordon was 
quickly sent to his relief. They anticipated Canales' 
movement. This little village, San Lorenzo, has an 
over portion of inhabitants. Every house and hut 
was crowded with men, boys, women and children. 
Almost every woman, old and young, had a child in 
her arms, and some of them more than one. Whether 
this superabundance of population is the legitimate ef- 
fect of the salubrious climate, or is produced by some 
other circumstances, is left for the reader to consider. 
The march to-day was distressingly hot and dusty. 
A Mr. Mount, of the company from Jackson county, 
straggled off in the chaparral, and has never since 
been heard of ; — he was doubtless murdered and then 
robbed by lurking Mexicans. 

On the 12th, early in the morning, the front guard 
charged upon, and took three Mexicans prisoners; 
they were armed and lurking in the mezquite chap- 
arral near the road, and were doubtless spies sent out 
by Canales to obtain information of our movements, 
but no positive proof appearing against them, they 
were released. As our animals were much worn 
down by the previous day's march, and it being 
impossible to procure forage for them, we only 
marched fifteen miles to-day, to the little rancho, 
San Juan, on a brazo or arm of the Rio Nazas. — 
Here both man and horse fared badly. As our next 
day's march was to be over a desert region of near 
forty miles without a drop of water, or even a mouthful 
of food for our famishing animals ; and also as the 
water had to be raised from a well into pools and vats 
at El Poso, where the army was to encamp on the 



night of the 13th, Lieut. Pope Gordon and fifteen or 
twenty men were sent at midnight, in advance, to draw 
water for the use of the army. The author went along 
as their guide, having traveled the same route on 
express to Saltillo. At 9 A. M., Lieut. Gordon and 
his advance arrived at El Poso, where we found Capt. 
Reid, with fourteen men. Captain Reid, as else- 
where observed, had accompanied Lieutenant-colonel 
Mitchell on his way to Saltillo, with a detachment of 
seventy or eighty men. Upon their arrival at Parras 
(a city where General Wool had taken up his head- 
quarters before he formed a junction with General 
Taylor, and which had been very friendly to the 
Americans, in the w r ay of furnishing supplies and 
taking care of Gen. Wool's sick men,) they found 
the inhabitants in much distress. A band of Coman- 
ches had just made a descent from the mountains upon 
the city, and killed eight or ten of the citizens, carried 
off nineteen girls and boys into captivity, and driven 
of! three hundred mules and two hundred horses. — 
Besides this, they had robbed houses of money, 
blankets, and the sacred household gods. They 
besought Capt. Reid to interfere in their behalf; that 
although they were considered enemies to the Ameri- 
cans, it did not become the magnanimity of the 
American soldiers to see them robbed and murdered 
by a lawless band of savages, the avowed enemies 
botji of the Mexicans and Americans. Captain Reid 
undertook to recover the innocent captives and chas- 
tise the brutal savages. This is the occasion of Capt. 
Reid's being at El Poso on the morning of the 13th. 
Just as Lieutenant Gordon and Capt. Reid joined their 
forces, the Indians, about sixty-five in number, made 


Doniphan's expedition. 

their appearance, advancing upon the hacienda from 
a canon or pass in the mountains towards the south. 
They had all their spoils and captives with them. 
Their intention was to water their stock at El Poso, 
and augment the number of their prisoners and ani- 
mals. Thus boldly do the Indians invade this country. 
Captain Reid concealed his men (about thirty-five in 
number) in the hacienda, and sent out Don Manuel 
Ybarro, a Mexican, and three or four of his servants, 
to decoy the Indians to the hacienda. The feint suc- 
ceeded. When the Indians came w T ithin half a mile, 
the order was given to charge upon them, which was 
gallantly and promptly done. Capt. Reid, Lieuts. 
Gordon, Winston and Sproule, were the officers pres- 
ent in this engagement, all of whom behaved very 
gallantly. The Indians fought with desperation for 
their rich spoils. Many instances of individual prowess 
and daring were exhibited by Captain Reid and his 
men, too numerous, indeed, to recount in detail; the 
captain himself, in a daring charge upon the savages, 
received two severe w T ounds, one in the face and the 
other in the shoulder. These wounds were both pro- 
duced by steel pointed arrows. The engagement 
lasted not less than tw T o hours, and was kept up hotly 
until the Indians made good their retreat to the moun- 
tains. In this skirmish we lost none. The Indians 
lost seventeen killed on the field, and not less than 
twenty-five badly wounded, among the former wasjjie 
Chief or Sachem. We recovered in this battle, all 
the animals and spoils which the Indians had taken 
from the Mexicans, and restored the captive boys and 
girls to their friends and relatives. 

Let those whose moral scruples induce them to 



doubt the propriety of Capt. Reid's brilliant sortie 
upon the Indians, consider, that the Comanches have 
rarely failed lo murder and torture in the most cruel 
manner, without discrimination, all Americans who 
have unfortunately fallen into their hands. The Co- 
manches are our uncompromising enemies. Read 
the brutal treatment Mrs. Horn and others received 
from them, and you can but justify Capt. Reid's con- 
duct. In truth he deserves the gratitude of both 
Mexicans and Americans, for the chastisement he 
visited upon the heads of these barbarous wretches. 
The people of Parras expressed their gratitude to 
Capt. Reid and his men in the following handsome 
and complimentary terms: 

Letter of thanks from the people of Parras to Captain 
John W. Reid, and his men, after the battle of the 
Poso, translated by Captain David Waldo. 

Political Head of the Department of Parras. 

At the first notice that the Indians, after having murdered many of 
our citizens and taken others captives, were returning to their homes 
through this vicinity, you, most generously and gallantly, offered, with 
fifteen of your countrymen, to combat them at the Poso, which you most 
bravely executed with celerity, skill, and heroism, and worthy of all 
encomium, meriting your brilliant success, which we shall ever com- 
memorate. You re-took many animals, and other property which had 
been captured, and liberated eighteen captives, who by your gallantry 
and good conduct have been restored to their families and homes, giving 
you the most hearty and cordial thanks, ever feeling grateful to you as 
their liberator from a life of ignominy and thraldom, with the deep grat- 
itude the whole population of this place entertain in ever living thanks. 
One half of the Indians being killed in the combat, and many flying 
badly wounded, does not quiet the pain that all of us feel for the wound 
that you received in rescuing christian beings from the cruelty of the 
most inhuman of savages. 

All of us ardently hope that you may soon recover of your wound, 
and though they know that the noblest reward of the gallant soul is to 


Doniphan's expedition. 

have done well for his country, yet they cannot forego this expression 
of their gratitude. 

I consider it a high honor to be the organ of their will in conveying to 
you the general feeling of the people of the place ; and I pray you to 
accept the assurance of my high respect. God and Liberty. 


Parras, 18 May, 1847. 

On the evening of the 14th of May the army reached 
the delightful city of Parras, handsomely situated at 
the northern base of a lofty range of mountains run- 
ning east and west, after having performed a fatiguing 
march of thirty-six miles, without one drop of water, 
and almost without seeing one sprig of green vegeta- 
tion, save the pointed maguey, and the bristling cactus. 
At Parras we found a plentiful supply of good water 
and forage for our perishing animals. We found 
Parras in reality to possess whatever of charm the 
imagination has thrown around one of the most beau- 
tiful of oases. We found a lovely alameda to screen 
us from the scorching rays of an almost vertical sun ; 
besides a variety of fruits to satisfy the eager appetite. 
Parras is famous for its pretty women, and for the 
intelligence of its population generally, many of the 
citizens having received an English education in the 
United States. — The people are much inclined to 
favor the institutions and government of our country. 
Don Manuel Ybarro, the proprietor of a large hacienda 
near Parras, was educated at Bardstown, Ky., and 
has acted a very friendly part towards the American 
troops. For his numerous acts of kindness towards 
the author and his companions in arms, he desires to 
return his grateful acknowledgments. 

Upon Col. Doniphan's reaching Parras, he received 
a communication from Gen. Wool, by the hands of 



Ybarro, in which he was authorized to purchase, on 
the credit of the United States, such provisions and 
forage as his men and animals required ; he was also 
instructed to allow his men such respite as their con- 
dition, after so much toil, and so many distressing 
marches, seemed to demand, and to extend to the 
intelligent and hospitable citizens of Parras kind treat- 
ment in reciprocation for their numerous acts of 
benevolence towards the sick Americans, whom he 
had been forced to leave at that place, upon his form- 
ing a junction with Gen. Taylor, at Saltillo. 

Though the Missourians manifested the utmost civ- 
ility towards the inhabitants of Parras, one incident 
occurred to mar the general harmony and good feeling 
which had prevailed. A few disaffected Mexicans 
fell upon a man, Lickenlighter, in the employ of the 
artillery, and with staves, and stones, bruised him so 
that he subsequently died in Monterey. This aggra- 
vated instance of cruelty, commenced by the Mexicans, 
excited the artillery-men, and all the Missourians, to 
such a degree that they fell upon whatever Mexicans 
exhibited the least insolence, and beat them severely. 
Some say that two of them were killed, but of this 
nothing certain is known. Nor were the officers able 
to restrain the men. Capt. Pike and a portion of the 
advance under Lieutenant-colonel Mitchell, having 
halted at this place, now rejoined the army. 

On the morning of the 17th, the whole force moved 
off in the direction of Saltillo, and in less than five 
days, having completed more than one hundred miles, 
the Missourians pitched their camps with the Arkan- 
sas cavalry, at Encantada, near the battle-field of 


Doniphan's expedition. 

Buena Vista, where there is an abundant supply of 
cool and delightful water. 

During this march they passed through a rugged, 
mountainous country, almost entirely destitute of vege- 
tation, producing only mezquite chaparral, clusters 
of dwarfish acacia, Spanish bayonet, maguey, and 
palmilla. — This last often grows thirty feet in height, 
and three feet in diameter, the body of which is some- 
times used as timber for the construction of bridges. 
On the tops of the mountain peaks, and sometimes 
by the way side, might be seen the cross, the symbol 
of the national faith, an object of universal reverence, 
constructed in the rudest and most primitive manner, 
with a small heap of stones at its foot, and fancifully 
and reverentially entwined with festoons of wild flow- 

Wayside Cross. 

ers. This march passed by the Haciendas Ybarro, 
Cienega Grande, Castanuella, the princely Hacienda 
de Patos, and the ruins of San Juan, where there is 
much water. This last place had been destroyed by 
the Americans. 

On the 22d of May, the regiment was reviewed by 



Gen. Wool in person, accompanied by his staff, and 
the following complimentary order made, viz : 

Headq.uab.te'rs, Buena Vista,") 
May 22d, 1847. 5 

The general commanding takes great pleasure in expressing the grati- 
fication he has received this afternoon in meeting the Missouri volun- 
teers. They are about to close their present term of military service, 
after having rendered, in the course of the arduous duties they have 
been called on to perform, a series of highly important services, crowned 
by decisive and glorious victories. 

No troops can point to a more brilliant career than those commanded 
by Col. Doniphan ; and no one will ever hear of the battles of Bra- 
zito or Sacramento, without a feeling of admiration for the men who gained 

The State of Missouri has just cause to be proud of the achievements 
of the men who have represented her in the army against Mexico, 
and she will without doubt, receive them on their return with all the 
joy and satisfaction to which a due appreciation of their merits and services 
so justly entitle them. 

In bidding them adieu, the general wishes to Col. Doniphan, his offi* 
cers and men, a happy return to their families. 

By command of Brig. Gen. Wool : 


On the 23d the Missourians marched to Gen. 
Wool's* camp, where Capt. Weightman delivered up 
his battery to Capt. Washington. The Mexican can- 
non which were captured in the action at Sacramento, 
they were permitted to retain as the trophies of their 
victory. These were subsequently presented by Col. 
Doniphan to the State of Missouri, to be the evidences 
through all time to come, of the valor, chivalry and 
good conduct of the troops under his command. 

* To those readers who desire to peruse a full and faithful account 
of the operations of Generals Wool, Taylor, Patterson, Quitman and 
Scott, the author would recommend the " Twelve Months' Volunteer," 
a new and interesting history, by G. C. Furber, of the Tennessee cavalry, 
recently published by J. A. & U. P. James, Cincinnati. 


Doniphan's expedition. 

The Missouri column, now passing Saltillo, the 
Grand cafron of the Rinconada, Santa Catarina, and the 
city of Monterey, arrived in the American camp at the 
Walnut Springs, on the 26th, having in three days 
performed a march of seventy miles, during which 
two brave soldiers, Smith and Smart, died, and were 
buried with becoming military honors. Major-general 
Taylor, having reviewed the Missouri troops on the 
morning of the 27th, issued the following order : 

Headquarters, Army of Occupation,} 
Camp near Monterey, May 27, 1847. 5 
Col. Doniphan's command of Missouri volunteers will proceed 
via Camargo, to the mouth of the river, or Brazos island, where it 
will take water transportation to New Orleans. 

On reaching New Orleans, Col. Doniphan will report to General 
Brooke, commanding the Western Division, and also to Col. Churchill, 
inspector general, who will muster the command for discharge and 

At Camargo Col. Doniphan will detach a sufficient number of men 
from each company to conduct the horses and other animals of the com- 
mand by land to Missouri. The men so detached will leave the neces- 
sary papers to enable their pay to be drawn when their companies are 
discharged at New Orleans. 

The Quartermaster Department will furnish the necessary transpor- 
tation to carry out the above orders. 

The trophies captured at the battle of Sacramento, will be conveyed by 
Col. Doniphan to Missouri, and there turned over to the Governor, sub- 
ject to the final disposition of the War Department. 

In thus announcing the arrangements which close the arduous and hon- 
orable service of the Missouri volunteers, the commanding general ex- 
tends to them his earnest wishes for their prosperity and happiness, and 
for a safe return to their families and homes. 

By command of Maj. Gen. Taylor : 

W. W. BLISS, A. A. A. G. 

When Gen. Taylor received authentic information 
of the fall of Vera Cruz, the capitulation of the castle 
of San Juan d' Ullua, and the capture of Chihuahua, 

gen. taylor's order. 


he published the following order to the troops under 
his command: 

Head quarters, Army of Occupation, ~} 
Camp near Monterey, April 14, 1847-5 

The commanding general has the satisfaction to announce to the 
troops under his command, that authentic information has been re- 
ceived of the fall of Vera Cruz, and of San Juan de Ullua, which ca- 
pitulated on the 27th of March to the forces of Maj. Gen. Scott. This 
highly important victory reflects new lustre on the reputation of our arms. 

The commanding general would, at the same time, announce an- 
other signal success, won by the gallantry of our troops on the 28th 
of February, near the city of Chihuahua. A column of Missouri 
volunteers, less than one thousand strong, under command of Col. 
Doniphan, with a light field battery, attacked a Mexican force many 
times superior, in an intrenched position, captured its artillery and bag- 
gage, and defeated it with heavy loss. 

In publishing to the troops the grateful tidings, the general is sure 
that they will learn, with joy and pride, the triumphs of their comrades on 
distant fields, 

By order of Maj. Gen. Taylor : 

W. W. BLISS, A. A. A. ». 



Departure for New Orleans — Execution of a Guerrilla Chief — 
Mier and Camargo — Death of Sergeant Swain— -Arrival at 
Reynosa — Water Transportation — The Mouth — Brazos San- 
tiago — The Troops sail for New Orleans— The Balize — Chiv- 
alry of the South— Reception in the Crescent City. 

Having left our sick men at Monterey, after a hasty 
march of thirty miles on the 26th of May, during which 
we passed the rivers Agua Fria,and Salinas de Parras, 
we encamped in the small town, Marin, where there 
was but little forage, and not the semblance of either 
green or dry grass. The next day, passing through 
a country covered with an almost impervious mezquite 
chaparral, and over the ground where Gen. Urea's 
band captured Gen. Taylor's provision train, and bar- 
barously and inhumanly murdered the unarmed team- 
sters, whose skeletons and half-devoured frames still 
lay scattered promiscuously along the road, over which 
vultures, dogs and wolves, were yet holding carnival, 
and having progressed thirty-five miles, we encamped 
at a fine, bold running spring, not far from Cerralvo. 

The next day advancing about seven miles, to Cer- 
ralvo, we halted to take some refreshment. Here we 
witnessed the execution, by the Texan Rangers, of a 
Mexican guerrilla chief, one of Urea's men, who had 
been captured the previous night. His captors prom- 
ised to spare his life upon condition that he would re- 
veal to them, where his comrades might be found. 
He refused to betray them, averring that he had 




killed many Americans, and he would kill many more 
if it were in his power. He added : — "My life is in 
the hands of my enemies ; I am prepared to yield it 
up : only I ask that I may not be tied, and that I may 
be allowed to face my executioners." Having lighted 
his cigarritOj with the utmost nonchalance he faced 
his executioners, (a file of six Texan Rangers,) who 
were detailed for the purpose. They were ordered 
to fire. Five balls penetrated the skull of the guer- 
rilla chief. He instantly expired. 

On the 30th we encamped in Mier, situated on the 
small river Alcantro, and famous for having been the 
place where the Texans capitulated to Gen. Ampudia. 
The next day we reached Camargo, on the San Juan, 
where we obtained an abundant supply of provisions, 
for this place had been converted into a government 
depot. This river admits of steamboat navigation. 
While here one of our companions, Tharp, who had 
performed much hard service, died of sickness. He 
was buried with the honors due to a brave soldier. 

On the 1st of June, Major Gilpin, with a small de- 
tachment of men started in advance of the column, 
with the intention of proceeding to Reynosa, to en- 
gage transportation for the army, by steamboats, thence 
to the mouth of the Rio Grande. After proceeding a 
few miles, one of his party, Sergeant Swain, a good 
soldier, having imprudently straggled on ahead, by 
himself, was shot by Mexicans lurking in the chapar- 
ral. To avenge his death the party charged, as soon 
as practicable, upon the Mexicans, who were adroitly 
making their escape, and killed one of them. Four 
others were, a short time afterwards, captured by Capt. 
Walton, with a small detachment of men, at a neigh- 


Doniphan's expedition. 

boring rancho, and carried to camp at Upper Reynosa, 
at which place we found Col. Webb, of the 16th regi- 
ment U. S. Army. The prisoners were delivered 
over to him ; but finding no positive evidence that they 
were the same, who had committed the bloody deed, 
although one of them had blood on his clothes, they 
were discharged, and conducted out of camp by a 
guard. But the company to whom Swain belonged, 
were so much enraged that, as it is said, they went 
out from camp, and killed part of them as soon as dis- 
missed by the guard. Of the truth of this, we are not 
certainly informed : for those who knew, would not 
divulge the truth, lest they should be censured by 
those in command ; but the fire of their guns was dis- 
tinctly heard. 

After resting a few hours, and burying the dead, the 
march was continued down the river, through the 
chaparral all day, and all the following night. At 
sunrise the advance of the column arrived at Reynosa, 
where we were greeted by the sight of steam vessels 
ready to transport us to the Gulf. 

Col. Doniphan, now taking the sick men on board 
the first transport that could be obtained, proceeded 
to the mouth of the river, to engage shipping, as 
early as practicable, for New Orleans, leaving Lieuten- 
ant-colonel Jackson, Major Gilpin, and Major Clark, 
to provide the means of transporting their respective 
battalions down the river. Certain of the soldiers, 
impatient of delay, and anxious to get home, censured 
Col. Doniphan for leaving them at Reynosa, without 
providing them with immediate transportation ; but 
they did not consider how important it was that he 
should go in advance to Brazos Island, and have ships 



ready engaged to convey them without delay to New 
Orleans. Without such precaution on the part of the 
commander, the whole column might have been 
obliged to lie many days on the beach, waiting for 
vessels in which to cross the Gulf. This, therefore, 
eventuated most opportunely, for ships were made 
ready in the harbor, before the men arrived at the 

Meanwhile the troops at Reynosa were obliged to 
lie one or two days on the river bank in a comfortless 
and miserable plight, (for it rained incessantly, and 
the men had no place to lie, nor tents to shelter them, 
but stood as cattle in the mud both day and night,) 
before they could procure transports. 

On the 4th and 5th, the men having burned their 
saddles, and other horse rigging, and sent their animals 
by land to Missouri, went aboard steam-vessels, and 
on the 7th, the whole force arrived safely at the mouth 
of the river, where they disembarked, and bivouacked 
upon the margin of the stream until the morning of the 
9th, the intermediate time being spent by the soldiers 
in the most refreshing and pleasant bathings in the 
River and Gulf. 

Lieutenant James Lea, quartermaster, proceeded 
with his trains from Reynosa to Matamoras, and 
turned over to the quartermaster at that place all his 
wagons, mules, and commissary stores. 

Gen. Taylor's order requiring a " sufficient number 
of men" to be detailed at Camargo for the purpose of 
conducting "the horses and other animals of the com- 
mand by land to Missouri," was not complied with ; 
for the volunteers did not choose to obey the order, re- 
garding the stock of but little value. However, 


doniphan's expedition. 

Sergeant Van Bibber, and about thirty-five other men, 
voluntarily agreed to drive the stock, (of such as 
would allow them a compensation of ten dollars per 
head for their pains) through Texas to Missouri, and 
deliver them in the county where the owner resided. 
Acordingly this party, with about seven hundred head 
of stock, leaving Reynosa on the 4th, proceeded to 
Camargo, and thence into the United States, arriving 
in Missouri, with the loss of near half the animals, 
about the 15th of August. 

On the 9th we walked over to the harbor at the 
north end of Brazos Island, whence we were to take 
shipping for New Orleans, and on the following day 
the artillery and about two hundred and fifty men, 
embarked on the schooner Murillo, and Col. Doni- 
phan, with seven hundred men, embarked on the 
stately sail-ship Republic, and under a favoring gale 
arrived safely in New Orleans on the 15th, having, 
m twelve months, performed a grand detour through 
the Mexican Republic, of near four thousand miles, 
by land and water. 

This most extraordinary march, conducted by Col. 
Doniphan, the Xenophon of the age, with great good 
fortune, meets not with a parallel in the annals of the 

Our passage across the gulf was speedy and pros- 
perous. One of our number, only, was committed to 
a watery grave. This was Christopher Smith, than 
whom none was a better soldier. Ridge, also a brave 
soldier, died, and was conveyed to New Orleans for 

We had now been in the service twelve months, 
had traversed the plains and solitudes of the west, 
had waded through the snows in the mountains of 


New Mexico, had traveled over the great deserts of 
Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Nueva Leon, and Ta- 
maulipas, half-naked, and but poorly supplied with 
provisions, and were weary of camp service, and 
packing up baggage. Therefore we were anxious to 
return to our homes and our families. When the 
men came within sight of the Balize — when they could 
but just discover, through the mist, low in the hori- 
zon, the distant, green, looming shores of their native 
country, they shouted aloud in the pride of their hearts, 
and, Columbus-like, gave thanks to the beneficent Au- 
thor of all good, not only for the prosperous voyage 
over the Gulf, but the unparalleled success of the 
Great Expedition. 

The chivalry of the South is unsurpassed ; the gen- 
erosity of the southern people unequaled. Their 
feelings are alive to every noble and magnanimous 
impulse. Their breasts are swayed by sentiments of 
true honor. Who will deny that the population of 
the Crescent city inspires patriotism from very prox- 
imity to the field immortalized by Jackson's victory ? 
New Orleans, for months previous to the arrival of 
Colonel Doniphan, had been wound up to the highest 
degree of military excitement, and had, in truth, been 
the great thoroughfare for the departure and return of 
perhaps more than ten thousand volunteers destined 
for the war, and returning from their various fields of 
glory ; yet, the Missourians, rough clad, were received 
with unabated enthusiasm, and a cordiality for which 
they will ever gratefully remember their friends of the 
south. As they passed up the Mississippi, the stream- 
ing of flags from the tops of the houses, and the wa- 
ving of white handkerchiefs by the ladies, as a token 
of approval, from the windows and balconies of the 


Doniphan's expedition. 

stately mansions which every where beautify the green 
banks of the " Inland Sea," announced to them that 
their return was hailed with universal joy ; that their 
arduous services were duly appreciated ; and that 
Louisianians are not only generous and brave, but 
nobly patriotic. Such a reception was worth the toil 
of an hundred battle-fields. 

Isolated from every other branch of the army, barred 
by intervening deserts from all communication with 
the government, thrown entirely upon its own resour- 
ces, compelled to draw supplies from a hostile country, 
and in the absence of instructions or succors, Colonel 
Doniphan's command was left to cut its way through 
the country of a subtle and treacherous enemy. Des- 
titute of clothing, and the means of procuring it — not 
having received a dime since the day of enlistment, 
and none then, save forty-two dollars commutation 
for clothing — the men almost grew as did Nebuchad- 
nezzar, being indeed rough samples of Rocky Moun- 
tain life. Their long-grown beards flowed in the wind 
similar to those of the rude Cossacks of northern 
Europe, while their garments were worn to shreds, 
bivouacking on the rocks and sands of Mexico.— 
Their dishevelled hair, their long-grown whiskers, 
their buck-skin apparel,* their stern and uncouth ap- 
pearance, their determined and resolved looks, and 
their careless and nonchalant air, attracted the gaze, 
and won the admiration of all people. Though they 
were somewhat undisciplined, yet they were hardy, 
unshrinking, resolute, independent, chivalrous, hon- 
orable and intelligent men, such as, indeed, u would 
not flatter Neptune for his trident, nor Jove for his 
power to thunder." 

* See cut, page 199. 


Discharge of the Troops — Their return to Missouri — Reception 
at St. Louis — Banquets and Honors — Doniphan crowned with 
a Laurel Wreath — Conclusion. 

We have hitherto considered in what manner the 
.troops under Col. Doniphan were conducted over the 
great solitudes to Santa Fe; how they traversed the 
snow-capped mountains in pursuit of the fearless 
Navajos ; how General Kearney, with a small force, 
crossed the continent, and held California in quiet 
possession; how Colonel Price succeeded to the com- 
mand of the troops in New Mexico ; how Col. Doni- 
phan invaded and conquered the States of Chihuahua 
and Durango ; thence traversing extensive deserts, 
treeless, barren and waterless ; oftentimes subsisting 
his army on half-rations and less ; and how, after infi- 
nite suSering and toil, he arrived at the Gulf, and 
sailed for New Orleans. 

The Missourians were now permitted to turn over 
to the ordnance master, at New Orleans, the arms they 
had used on the expedition, and with which they had 
achieved signal victories. They were forthwith mus- 
tered for discharge and payment by Col. Churchill, 
which process was completed between the 22d and the 
28th of June. Having received payment, and an 
honorable discharge from the service, they departed 
to their respective homes in detached parties, each 
one now traveling according to his own convenience, 

( 379 ) 


doniphan's expedition. 

and being no longer subject to command. They gen- 
erally arrived in Missouri about the 1st of July, having 
been absent thirteen months. 

Anticipating the arrival of the returning volunteers, 
the generous citizens of St. Louis had made ample 
preparations to give them a hearty, welcome, cordial 
reception, and testify to them the esteem in which 
their services were held by their fellow citizens. But 
as the volunteer soldiers, who were now become citi- 
zens, returned in detached parties, and were very- 
anxious to visit their families and friends, from whom 
they had so long been separated, they could not all 
be induced to remain and partake of the proffered 
hospitality. However, the company under Captain 
Hudson, having in charge the captured Mexican can- 
non, and near three hundred officers and privates of 
different companies being in the city on the 2d of 
July, it was agreed that the formalities of the reception 
should be gone through with. Accordingly the vari- 
ous military, and fire companies, of the city, were 
paraded in full uniform; the people collected in great 
crowds ; the Mexican cannon, the trophies of victory, 
were dragged along the streets, crowned with gar- 
lands: and an immense procession was formed, 
conducted by T. Grimsley, chief marshal, which, 
after a brief, animating speech, from the Hon. J. B. 
Bowlin, and a still briefer response from Lieutenant- 
colonel Mitchell, proceeded to Camp Lucas, where 
the Hon. T. H. Benton delivered to the returned vol- 
unteers, and a concourse of more than seven thousand 
people, a most thrilling and eloquent address,* re- 

* See Benton's and Doniphan's speeches, Missouri Republican, July 
3d, 1847. 



counting, with astonishing accuracy, and extraordinary 
minuteness, the events of the great campaign. 

When the honorable Senator concluded, Col. Doni- 
phan was loudly and enthusiastically called to the 
stand; whereupon he rose and responded in a very 
chaste, and modest, yet graphic address, in which he 
ascribed the great success and good fortune, which 
continually attended him on his expedition, rather to 
the bravery and conduct of his soldiers, than to his 
own generalship. 

For months succeeding the return to the State, of the 
Missouri volunteers, sumptuous dinners, banquets, and 
balls, tables loaded with delicate viands, and the rich- 
est wines, were everywhere spread to do them honor, 
as if thereby to compensate, in some measure, for past 
hardships, and the immensity of toil and peril, which 
they had experienced in climbing over rugged, snow- 
capped mountains ; in contending with the overwhelm- 
ing forces of the enemy ; in enduring bitter cold, 
pinching hunger, burning thirst, incredible fatigue, and 
sleepless nights of watching, and in bivouacking upon 
the waterless, arid deserts of Mexico. But their past 
dangers, both from the foe and the elements, were now 
soon forgotten, amidst the kind caresses of friends, 
and the cordial reception with which their fellow- 
citizens continually greeted them, The maxim which 
has descended from former ages, and which has met 
the sanction of all nations, that Republics are un- 
grateful, has not in this instance proved true ; for 
there was now a campaign of feasting and honors. 

On the 29th of July a public dinner was given by 
the citizens of Independence (Mo.), in honor of Col. 
Doniphan, his officers, and men, on which occasion 


Doniphan's expedition. 

the ladies, being anxious to testify their respect to the 
hero of Sacramento, and those who followed where he 
dared to lead, had prepared the Laurel Wreath, in 
all ages the " gift of beauty to valor" for the victor's 
brow. After the welcoming speech, by S. H. Woodson, 
and a chaste and thrilling response by Col. Doniphan, 
Mrs. Buchanan on behalf of the ladies, delivered from 
the stand, in the presence of five thousand people, the 
subjoined eloquent address. 

" Respected Friends : — Long had the world echoed to the voice of 
fame, when her brazen trumpet spoke of the glories of Greece and 
Rome. The sun looked proudly down upon Thermopylae, when Leoni- 
das had won a name bright and glorious as his own golden beams. The 
soft air of the Italian clime glowed, as the splendor of a Roman triumph 
flashed through the eternal city. But the mantle of desolation now 
wraps the mouldering pillars of Athens and of Rome, and fame, desert- 
ing her ancient haunts, now fills our own fair land with the matchless 
deeds of her heroic sons. Like the diamond in the recesses of the mine, 
lay for centuries the land of Columbia. Like that diamond when art's 
transforming fingers have polished its peerless lustre, it now shines the 
most resplendent gem in the coronal of nations. 

" The records of the Revolution, that dazzling picture in the Temple 
of History, present us with the astonishing sight of men whose feet had 
never trodden the strict paths of military discipline, defying, conquering the 
trained ranks of the British army, whose trade is war. Nor did their 
patriotism, their energy, die with the Fathers of the Revolution-»-therr 
spirit lives in their sons. 

" The star which represents Missouri, shone not on the banner that 
shadowed the venerated head of Washington. But the unrivaled deeds 
of the Missouri Volunteers have added such brilliancy to its beams, that 
even he whose hand laid the corner-stone of the temple of American 
liberty, and placed on its finished shrines the rescued flag of his country, 
would feel proud to give the star of Missouri a place amidst the time- 
honored, the far-famed " old thirteen." The Spartan, the Athenian, the 
Roman, who offered on the altar of Mars the most brilliant sacrifices, 
were trained even from their infancy, in all the arts of war. The service 
of the bloody god was to them the business of life, aye, even its pastime; 
their very dreams were full of the tumult of battle: but they who hewed 
asunder, with their good swords, the chains of a British tyrant, and 



they who have rendered the names of Brazito and Sacramento watch- 
words to rouse the valor of succeeding ages, hurried from the quiet labors 
of the field, the peaceful halls of justice, the cell of the student, and the 
familiar hearth of home, to swell the ranks of the defenders of their 
native land. 

4< Volunteers of Missouri : —In the history of your country, no 
fairer page can be found than that which records your own heroic achieve- 
ments. Many of you had never welcomed the morning light without 
the sunshine of a mothers smile to make it brighter : many of you had 
known the cares and hardships of life only in name ; still you left the 
home of your childhood, and encountered perils and sufferings that 
would make the cheek of a Roman soldier turn pale ; and encountered 
them so gallantly that Time in his vast calendar of centuries can show 
none more bravely, more freely borne. 

" We welcome you back to your home. The triumph which hailed 
the return of the Caesars, to whose war-chariot was chained the known 
world, is not ours to give ; nor do you need it. A prouder triumph 
than Rome could bestow is yours, in the undying fame of your proud 
achievements. But if the welcome of hearts filled with warm love and 
well merited admiration ; hearts best known and longest tried, be a 
triumph, it is yours in the fullest extent. 

" The torrent of eloquence to which you have just listened, the rich 
feast that awaits you, are the tributes of your own sex ; but we, the 
fairer part of creation, must offer ours also. 

" Colonel Doniphan : — Tn the name of the ladies who surround me, 
I bestow on you this laurel wreath — in every age and every clime, the 
gift of beauty to valor* In placing it on the brow of him who now 
kneels to receive it, I place it on the brow of all, who followed where 
so brave, so dauntless a commander, led. It is true that around the 
laurel wreath is twined every association of genius, glory and valor, 
but I feel assured that it was never placed on a brow more worthy to re- 
ceive it than his on which it now rests — the hero of Sacramento." 

It does not become the author to extol in unmea- 
sured terms the gallant officers who led with such 
marvelous success, nor the brave men who bore with 
Roman fortitude and patience, the fatigues of the 
Western Expedition, beyond what every candid and 
generous mind will readily concede. Equally the 
conduct of both is worthy of encomium. They per- 


Doniphan's expedition. 

formed all, and more than all, the government expected 
at their hands. After the conquest of New Mexico, 
Gen. Kearney, with one hundred men, completed an 
astonishing overland expedition to the shores of the 
Pacific, one thousand and ninety miles distant from 
Santa Fe. This great march was conducted over stony 
mountains, barren plains, and inhospitable deserts. 

Colonel Doniphan and his men scaled the granite 
heights of the Cordilleras, amidst fathoms of accumu- 
lated, eternal snows, in the depth of winter, when the 
wide waste of rocks, and the horrid, driving snow- 
storms, were their most relentless enemies. Having 
spent three months, and performed a campaign of 
seven hundred and fifty miles in the most rugged and 
inhospitable regions on the continent, they return to 
the valley of the Del Norte. Here they refresh them- 
selves, and recruit two days ; after which they com- 
mence the grand march upon Chihuahua, and gain 
immortal renown on the trophied fields of Brazito and 
Sacramento. The Capital and the State, with tw T o 
hundred thousand inhabitants, become a conquest to 
less than a thousand Missourians. This march was 
near six hundred miles through barren and waterless 

The nation almost trembled for the safety of Gen. 
Wool's column, thirty-five hundred strong, with heavy 
artillery, when he set out from San Antonio on his 
intended expedition against Chihuahua. Many appre- 
hended his complete overthrow, and argued that it 
would result in a prodigal waste of means, and a 
useless and wanton sacrifice of human life, for so 
small a force to march against so powerful and popu- 
lous a State. But the strdng hold of Central Mexico 



is in possession of the hero of Sacramento, with nine 
hundred and twenty-four Missourians, and the Ameri- 
can flag floats in triumph over its walls. 

Leaving Chihuahua for more extended operations, 
and a new theatre of action, they move off through the 
states of Durango and Coahuila, traversing parched, 
arid, waterless wastes, for more than six hundred 
miles, ready to succor Gen. Taylor, if beleaguered in 
Saltillo, or to accompany him over the Cedral Desert 
in his contemplated descent upon San Louis dePotosi, 
having previously sent fourteen express-men on a most 
perilous enterprise to learn the General's wishes. 

Their services being now no longer required, the com- 
mander-in-chief dispatches them to the United States ? 
by way of Matamoras and the Mexican Gulf. They 
sail for New Orleans, where they are discharged; they 
return to Missouri from the eastward, graced with the 
trophies of the vanquished foe, having in twelve months 
performed a magnificent circuit of more than 3,500 
miles by land, and 2,500 by water, with the loss of 
less than one hundred of their original number. 

The expedition of Cyrus against his brother, Arta- 
xerxes, and the retreat of the ten thousand Greeks, fa- 
mous through all time, conducted by Xenophon and 
Cherisopus, forms the only parallel to Col. Doniphan's 
expedition, recorded in history. In fifteen months 
Cyrus and Xenophon conduct this expedition about 
3450 English miles, with the loss of several thousand 
brave men, and finally return to Greece, possessing 
nothing save their lives and their arms. In thirteen 
months Col. Doniphan and his Missourians, accom- 
plish a similar expedition, (except as to its objects) of 
more than 5500 miles, returning decorated with the 


Doniphan's expedition. 

spoils of war, and meeting with the hearty approval of 
their countrymen. 

The distance over which Gen. Kearney marched 
was perhaps greater than that over which Col. Doniphan 
passed ; but the former only conducted an army to 
California, returning privately ; while the latter com- 
manded and provided for his men, and that too with- 
out funds, until they were disbanded at New Orleans. 

But where are the permanent, the beneficial results 
of this wonderful, this almost fabulous Expedition of 
Col. Doniphan ? — the utilitarian will inquire. The 
facts, that the Chihuahua market, which the war had 
closed, was reopened for the admittance of several hun- 
dred thousand dollars w T orth of American goods, w T hich 
otherwise would have been sacrificed, to the ruin of 
the merchants, if not indemnified by the Government; 
that new and more desirable commercial relations will 
henceforward assuredly spring up between Chihuahua 
and the Western States, and on a safer and more 
equitable basis ; that the insults and wrongs which had 
been repeatedly heaped on American citizens, and the 
decimation of the Mier prisoners, were now completely 
avenged by the defeat of a haughty and supercilious 
foe ; that great light has been thrown on the political 
condition and geographical position of central Mexico, 
w T hich had hitherto been but little explored by Ameri- 
cans ; that the Mexican people have now been taught 
something of the strength of their northern neighbors ; 
that they have acquired some knowledge of the effects 
of free institutions, liberty, and general education upon 
mankind ; and that all central Mexico was thereby 
neutralized during the war, — will sufficiently answer 
the important inquiry. 



Thus terminated the most extraordinary and wonder- 
ful Expedition of the age, attended throughout by the 
most singular good fortune, conducted under the aus- 
pices of Col. Doniphan, who has been very justly styled 
the Great Military Pedestrian, the Victor and 


Colonel Price — Disposition of the troops — The Conspiracy- 
Conspiracy detected — Second conspiracy — Massacre of Gov. 
Bent and retinue — Battles of Canada, Embudo, Pueblo de 
Taos, and the Mora — Death of Captains Burgwin and Hend- 
ley — Restoration of tranquillity. 

It will be remembered that on the 26th of October, 
1846, Col. Doniphan took his departure from Santa 
Fe, on an excursion against the Navajo Indians, and 
was rejoined at Santa Domingo by three hundred of 
his own regiment, who had been previously stationed 
at the grazing encampment near San Miguel, but 
were now ordered to proceed to the mountains, on a 
most serious and trying campaign. Col. Doniphan 
returned no more to Santa Fe. 

The command of the troops in New Mexico 
thenceforward devolved on Colonel, now Brigadier- 
General Sterling Price. For the preservation of 
health and activity among his troops — which consisted 
of the 2d regiment under his own immediate com- 
mand, an extra battalion under Lieutenant-colonel 

Doniphan's expedition. 

Willoek, a battalion of infantry under Captains Ang- 
ney and Murphy, one company of light artillery under 
Capt. Fischer, the Laclede Rangers under Lieut. El- 
liot, two hundred of the 1st dragoons under Captain 
Burgwin, (Major Sumner having returned to the United 
States on the 18th of October,) and some additional 
artillery and miscellaneous troops under Lieuts. Dyer 
and Wilson of the U. S. Army, making an aggregate 
of near two thousand men — and also for the preserva- 
tion of good order, quiet, and entire submission on the 
part of the malcontent New Mexicans and Pueblo In- 
dians, Col. Price at first thus disposed of his forces : 

Capt. Burgwin, w T ith the 1st dragoons, was stationed 
at Alburquerque to maintain tranquillity on the Rio 
Abajo ; a squadron of two hundred men, under Major 
Edmondson, was scouring about Cebolleta; a small 
force under Capt. Hendley w T as ordered to the valley 
of the Mora, with the view of finding forage for the 
stock, and of preserving peace and subordination in 
that quarter, as well as also to check the predatory 
incursions of the border Indians, who were becoming 
quite troublesome and deserving of chastisement; the 
remaining forces were retained at the capital as a 

On the 28th of October, two days after the depar- 
ture of Col. Doniphan from Santa Fe, Col. Price 
issued an order requiring the troops under his com- 
mand to appear on parade, for drill and discipline, 
twice each day. The officers were required to per- 
form an extra drill, that they might be better qualified 
to instruct the men. This discipline was rigidly 
adhered to. Every one, the least acquainted with 
military affairs, is aware how difficult a matter it is to 



preserve good order and wholesome discipline in a 
garrison composed entirely of volunteers. The un- 
restrained, independent life to which the citizen sol- 
dier has been accustomed, unfits him for garrison 
service. He becomes impatient of discipline, and 
desires active, useful, honorable employment. For 
this reason regular troops are much better for gar- 
risons than volunteers ; but are none their superiors 
in an arduous and daring campaign. 

About the 1st of December, the most distinguished 
of the malcontents began to hold secret cabals and 
consultations, and to plot the overthrow of the actual, 
existing government. Oftentimes the conspirators, 
like Cataline and his accomplices in guilt, would 
withdraw into some retired room in the capital, or on 
the flat top of some unfrequented building, and there 
at the silent hour of midnight machinate a scheme for 
the massacre of all the Americans, the establishment 
of a new government, and the installation of new 
governors. The leaders of this dark and despe- 
rate conspiracy were Don Tomas Ortiz, who as- 
pired to be governor of the province ; Don Diego 
Archulette, who had been nominated as commanding 
general ; and Seniores Nicholas Pino, Miguel Pino, 
Santiago Armijo, Manuel Chavez, Domingo Baca, 
Pablo Dominguez, Juan Lopez, and many others, all 
men of great and restless ambition, and expectants of 
office if the conspiracy should have a favorable issue 

The 19th of December, at midnight, was the time 
at first appointed for the revolt to commence, which 
was to be simultaneous all over the department, [n 
the meantime each one of the conspirators had a par- 
ticular part of the state assigned him, to the end that 


doniphan's expedition. 

they might gain over the whole people of the province. 
The profoundest secrecy was to be preserved, and the 
most influential men, whose ambition induced them to 
seek preferment, were alone to be made acquainted 
with the plot. No woman w r as to be privy to these 
things, lest they should be divulged. 

Each having pledged himself to the others on the 
cross that he would be faithful and vigilant in con- 
summating their designs, as speedily and successfully 
as possible, departed, some into one place, and some 
into another. For his part, Tomas Ortiz, who had 
been second in command to Armijo, the late governor, 
went to El Bado, that he might stir up the people 
there; Diego Archulette hastened to the valley of 
Taos, to make known his plans, and solicit aid in that 
quarter ; Domingo Baca departed to the Rio Abajo to 
excite the inhabitants, and procure assistance there ; 
Pablo Dominguez, and Miguel Pino, proceeded to the 
settlements on the river Tesuca, to enlist them in the 
enterprise : and the priest Leyba would propose the 
same to the people at San Miguel and Las Bagas. 

For the more certain success of the revolution, the 
conspirators assembled in secret conclave in the capi- 
tal, on the night of the 15th of December, to consult, 
mature their plans, and arrange the method of attack. 
Don Sanchez, when apprehended and brought before 
the tribunal, testified that Don Diego Archulette com- 
menced the discourse: — "I make the motion that there 
be an act to nominate a governor and a commander- 
general; and I would nominate Tomas Ortiz for the 
first office, and Diego Archulette for the second." 
This was unanimously carried, and the act signed hy 
every individual present. After this was concludedj 



they commenced a discourse relative to the method of 
surprising the government at Santa Fe, and taking 
possession of the place. They decided upon the fol- 
lowing plan: "On Saturday evening, the 19th of 
December, all were to assemble with their men at the 
parish church. Having divided themselves into sev- 
eral parties, they were to sally forth, some to seize the 
pieces of artillery, others to go to the quarters of the 
colonel, and others to the palace of the Governor, (if 
he should be there,) and if not, to send an order to 
Taos to seize him, because he would give the most 
trouble. This act was also agreed on by all. The 
sound of the church bell was to be the signal for the 
assault by the forces concealed in the church, and 
those which Don Diego Archulette should have 
brought near the city — midnight was the time agreed 
on, when all were to enter the a plaza" at the same 
moment, seize the pieces of artillery and point them 
into the streets. The meeting now dissolved." 

Owing to a want of complete organization and con- 
cert, and that the conspiracy was not yet fully matured, 
it was concluded to suspend the attack for a time, and 
fix on Christmas-eve night for the assault, when the 
soldiers and garrison would be indulging in wine and 
feasting, and scattered about through the city at the 
fandangoes, not having their arms in their hands. — 
All the Americans, without distinction, throughout the 
State, and such New Mexicans as had favored the 
American government, and accepted office by appoint- 
ment of General Kearney, were to be massacred, or 
driven from the country, and the conspirators were to 
seize upon and occupy the government. This enter- 
prise, how T ever, failed of success, being detected, 


Doniphan's expedition. 

exposed and crushed, by the vigilance of Col. Price, 
his officers and men. 

The conspiracy was detected in the following 
manner: a mulatto girl, residing in Santa Fe, had 
married one of the conspirators, and had by degrees 
obtained a knowledge of their movements and secret 
meetings. To prevent the effusion of blood, which 
would inevitably be the result of a revolution, she 
communicated to Col. Price, all the facts of which 
she was in possession, and warned him to use the 
utmost vigilance. The rebellion was immediately 

But the restless and unsatisfied ambition of the 
leaders of the conspiracy, did not long permit them 
to remain inactive. The rebellion had been detected 
and smothered, but not completely crushed. A sec- 
ond and still more dangerous conspiracy was plotted. 
The most powerful and influential men in the State, 
favored the design. An organized plan of operations 
was adopted. The profoundest secrecy was pre- 
served. While all appeared to be quiet and secure, 
the machinations of the conspirators were maturing, 
and gaining strength. Even the officers of State, and 
the priests, gave their aid and counsel. The people 
every where, in the towns, villages, and settlements, 
were exhorted to arm and equip themselves, to strike 
for their faith, their religion, and their altars, and drive 
the "heretics," the "unjust invaders of the country," 
from their soil, and with fire and sword pursue them 
to annihilation. On the 19th of January this rebellion 
broke out in every part of the State simultaneously. 

On the 14th of January, Governor Charles Bent, 
attended by an escort of five persons, among whom 



were the sheriff, circuit attorney, and the prefecto, left 
Santa Fe and proceeded to Taos. Upon his arrival 
there he was applied to by the Pueblo Indians to re- 
lease from prison two of their number, who for some 
misdemeanor had been incarcerated by the authorities. 
The governor told them they must await the ordinary 
process of the laws. 

On the 19th of the same month, the governor and 
his retinue were murdered in the most cruel and in- 
human manner, by the Pueblos and Mexicans, at the 
village San Fernando. On the same day seven other 
Americans, after standing a siege of two days, were 
overpowered, taken and butchered in cold blood at 
the Arroyo Hondo ; also four at the town Mora, and 
two on the Colorado.* 

The insurgents had assembled in strong force at La 
Canada, under command of Generals Ortiz, Lafoya, 
Chavez, and Montoya, with the view of making a 
descent upon Santa Fe. Col. Price having ordered 
Major Edmondson and Capt. Burgwin, with their re- 
spective commands from the Rio Abajo, on the morn- 
ing of the 23d, at the head of three hundred and fifty- 
three men,f which number was afterwards augmented 
to four hundred and eighty, and four mountain how- 
itzers, marched against the insurgents, leaving Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Willock, with a strong garrison, in 

* The following persons fell victims to the conspiracy. At Taos — O 
Bent, governor ; S. Lee, sheriff ; J. W. Leal, circuit attorney ; C. Virgil, 
(Mexican,) prefecto ; N. Baubien, son of Judge Baubien ; and Jirmia, 
a Mexican. At the Arroya Hondo, twelve miles from Taos — S. Turley, 
A. Cooper, W. Harfield, L. Folque, P. Roberts, J. Marshall, and W 
Austin. At the Rio Colorado — M. Head, and W. Harwood. 4t the 
Mora — L. Waldo, R. Culver, Noyes, and two others. 

f See Col. Price's official dispatch, February 15th, 1847 


Doniphan's expedition. 

command of the capital. The weather was extiemely 
inclement, and the earth covered with snow. 

" On the evening of the 24th, Col. Price encoun- 
tered the enemy at Canada, numbering about two 
thousand men, under the command of Gens. Tofaya, 
Chavez, and Montoya. The enemy were posted on 
the hills commanding each side of the road. About 
two o'clock, P. M. a brisk fire from the artillery under 
the command of Lieuts. Dyer (of the regular army) 
and Harsentiver, was opened upon them, but from 
their being so much scattered, it had but little effect. 

The artillery were within such short distance as to 
be exposed to a hot fire, which either wounded or pen- 
etrated the clothes of nineteen or twenty men who 
served the guns. Col. Price seeing the slight effect 
which the artillery had upon them, ordered Captain 
Angney with his battalion to charge the hill, which 
was gallantly done, being supported by Captain St. 
Vrain, of the citizens, and Lieut. White of the Car- 
roll companies. The charge lasted until sundown. — 
Our loss was two killed, and seven wounded. The 
Mexicans acknowledged a loss of thirty-six killed, and 
forty-five taken prisoners. The enemy retreated to- 
wards Taos, their strong-hold. Colonel Price on the 
27th took up his line of march for Taos, and again 
encountered them at El Embudo on the 29th. They 
were discovered in the thick brush on each side of the 
road, at the entrance of a defile, by a party of spies, 
who immediately fired upon them. Capt. Burgwin, 
who had that morning joined Colonel Price with his 
company of dragoons, hearing the firing, came up, 
together with Captain St. Vrain's, and Lieutenant 
White's companies. A charge was made by the three 



companies, resulting in the total rout of the Mexicans 
and Indians. The battle lasted about half an hour; 
but the pursuit was kept up for two hours. 

The march was resumed on the next day, and met 
with no opposition until the evening of the 3d of 
February, at which time they arrived at the Pueblo 
de Taos, where they found the Mexicans and Indians 
strongly fortified. — A few rounds were fired by the 
artillery that evening, but it was deemed advisable not 
to make a general attack then, but wait until morning. 
The attack was commenced in the morning by two 
batteries under the command of Lieuts. Dyer and 
Wilson, of the regular army, and Lieut. Harsentiver 
of the light artillery, by throwing shells into the town. 
About meridian, a charge was ordered and gallantlv 
executed by Capt. Burgwin's company, supported by 
Capt. McMillan's company and Capt. Angney's bat- 
talion of infantry, supported by Capt. Burbee's com- 
pany. The church, which had been used as a part 
of the fortifications, was taken by this charge. The 
fight w T as hotly contested until night, when two white 
flags were hoisted, but were immediately shot down. 
In the morning the fort was surrounded. The old 
men, the priests and the matrons, bringing their chil- 
dren and their sacred household gods in their hands, 
besought the clemency and mercy of their conquerors. 
Pardon was granted. In this battle fell Capt. Burgwin, 
than whom a braver soldier, or better man, never 
poured out his blood in his country's cause. 

The total loss of the Mexicans in the three engage 
ments, is estimated at two hundred and eighty-two 
killed; the number of their wounded is unknown. 


doniphan's expedition. 

Our total loss was fifteen killed* and forty-seven 

Learning of the insurrectionary movements on the 
20th of January, Capt. Hendley, who was in command 
of the grazing detachment on the Pecos, immediately 
took possession of Las Bagas, where the insurgents 
were beginning to concentrate their forces. He now 
ordered the different grazing parties to unite with him, 
and prepare for offensive and defensive warfare. In 
a short time he was joined by various detachments, 
increasing his numbers to two hundred and twenty- 
five men. 

Lieut. Hawkins, with thirty-five men, was dispatch- 
ed on the ^2d to escort a train of wagons into Las 
Bagas, the Mexicans having sent out a party to plun- 
der them. He soon met Capt. Murphy, with a train 
of wagons, convoyed by a detachment of Capt. Jack- 
son's company, having in his possession about three 
hundred thousand dollars in specie. The convoy re- 
turned about one day's march to guard the provision 
train, while the specie train moved on, escorted by 
Lieut. Hawkins. 

Capt. Hendley, leaving the grea^r part of his force 
at Las Bagas, on the 22d, with eighty men started for 
the Mora, where he had learned the Mexicans were 
embodied two hundred strong. He arrived before the 
place on the 24th, "found a body of Mexicans under 
arms, prepared to defend the town, and while forming 
his men in a line for attack, a small party of insur- 
gents were seen running from the hills. A detach- 

* Killed — Capt. Burgwin, Lieut. Van Valkenburg, Sergts. Caldwell 
Ross and Heart ; and privates, Graham, Smith, Papin, Bower, Brooks, 
Levicy, Hansuker, Truax, Austin and Bebee. 



ment was ordered to cut them off, which was attacked 
by the main body of the enemy. A general engage- 
ment immediately ensued, the Mexicans retreating, 
and firing from the windows and loop-holes in their 
houses. Capt. Hendley and his men closely pursued 
them, rushing into their houses with them, shooting 
some, and running others through with bayonets. A 
large body of the insurgents had taken possession of 
an old fort, and commenced a fire from the loop-holes 
upon the Americans. Capt. Hendley with a small 
party had taken possession of an apartment in the fort, 
and while preparing to fire it, he was struck by a ball 
from an adjoining room. He fell and died in a few 
minutes. Our men having no artillery, and the fort 
being impregnable without it, retired to Las Bagas. The 
enemy had twenty-five killed, and seventeen taken pri- 
soners. Our loss was one killed and three wounded. 

Thus fell the brave Capt. Hendley, almost in the 
moment of victory ; and while we lament his loss, it 
is some consolation to know that he died like a sol- 
dier. His body was taken to Santa Fe, where he was 
buried with all the honors of war."* 

On the 1st of February, the death of Hendley, as 
well as that of Messrs Waldo, Noyes, Culver and 
others, was avenged by Capt. Morin and his men, in 
the complete demolition of the village Mora. The in- 
surgents fled to the mountains. The dead bodies of 
the Americans who had been assassinated, were con- 
veyed to Las Bagas for interment. 

* The remains of Capts. Hendley and Burgwin, several Lieutenants 
and sutler Albert Wilson, were exhumed at Santa Fe, and brought to 
Fort Leavenworth, where they were interred on the 22d of September, 
1847; except those of Capt. Hendley, which were conveyed to Rich- 
mond, and buried on the 23d. 


Doniphan's expedition. 

The battles of La Canada, Embudo, Pueblo de Taos, 
and the Mora, in all of which the insurgents were van- 
quished with heavy loss, suppressed the insurrection, 
and once more restored quiet, law and order through- 
out the territory. On the 6th of February, Montoya, 
one of the leaders of the conspiracy, who had styled 
himself the Santa Anna of the North, was court-mar- 
tialed and sentenced to be hung. He was executed 
on the 7th,* in the presence of the army. Fourteen 
others, who were concerned in the murder of Governor 
Bent, were tried, convicted, and executed in a similar 
manner, in the neighborhood of Taos. 

Leaving a detachment of infantry in the valley of 
Taos, under the command of Capt. Angney, Colonel 
Price returned to Santa Fe, where he continued to dis- 
charge the highest civil and military functions of the 
territory. — At a subsequent period, however, Capt. 
Angney w r as relieved by Lieutenant-colonel Willock's 
battalion of cavalry. 

The leading instigators of the revolution having 
fallen in battle, been executed on a charge of treason, 
or escaped the punishment merited by their offences, by 
flight to the mountains, the country once more enjoyed 
a short repose. The insurgent armies were dispersed. 
The people returned from the hills and mountains, 
whither many of them had fled for refuge during the 
excitement, to their respective homes, and resumed 
their daily avocations.— Peace and harmony once 
more reigned throughout the province. 

* The court-martial consisted of six officers, Capts. Angney, Barbee, 
and Slack ; Lieuts. Ingalls, White and Eastin ; the latter being Judge 
Advocate of the court. 


Increased vigilance of the troops — Suspicion — Battle of the 
Red river canon — Murder of Lieut. Brown— -Battle of La3 
Bagas — Six prisoners executed — Attack on the Cienega — In- 
dian outrages — Robberies— Lieut. Love — Capt. Mann — The 
new levies. 

After the suppression of the rebellion in New 
Mexico, the troops were posted in almost every part 
of the city. A greater degree of vigilance was ob- 
served, and stricter discipline enforced. The conduct 
of the Mexicans was watched with the utmost scrutiny. 
No house was permitted to retain arms, or other mu- 
nitions of war ; nor w r as any Mexican cavalier suffered, 
as had hitherto been the case, to ride with impunity 
about the country, and through the American camps, 
displaying his weapons and warlike trappings, making 
estimates of the American forces, and keeping a strict 
espionage upon their movements. The American 
soldiers, roused to indignation by the brutal massacres 
and frequent assassinations which had already black- 
ened the annals of the campaign, and thrown a dark 
shade over the conquest of the country, scarcely 
spared the innocent and unoffending. However, no 
acts of violence were perpetrated. 

The soldiers slept upon their arms. They never 
left their quarters, or rode out of the city, or visited 
the villages, or passed through the country, without 
their arms in their hands. They were always pre- 
pared, both night and day, for any sudden emergency 



Doniphan's expedition. 

that might arise; with such suspicion and animosity 
did the Americans and New Mexicans now regard 
each other. A suspicious quietude reigned through- 
out the territory ? but it was only that the rebellion 
might break out afresh on the first favorable oppor- 

On the 26th of May, 1847, Major Edmondson, with 
a detachment of two hundred men, under Captains 
Holaway & Robinson, and Lieuts. Elliott and Hughes, 
was vigorously attacked by a large body of Mexicans, 
Apache, Comanche, and Kiawa Indians combined, at 
the "Red river canon," about one hundred and twenty 
miles from Santa Fe. The enemy were supposed to 
number about five hundred. The action commenced 
about sunset, and continued until dark. The defile 
was narrow, and on either hand the spurs of the 
mountains were rugged and inaccessible to cavalry. 
The pass led through a morass or quagmire, so diffi- 
cult of passage that many of the horses stuck fast in 
the mud. The cavalry could not act to any advan- 
tage. Major Edmondson therefore dismounted the 
men, and cautiously advanced against the enemy, 
under the heavy fire. The enemy was repulsed ; but 
gaining fresh courage, he renewed the attack with 
more vigor than ever. The Americans now slowly 
retired in good order a few hundred paces, and occu- 
pied a more favorable position for defence. The 
retreat was covered by Lieut. Elliott, with the Laclede 
rangers. It was now dark. The next morning Maj. 
Edmondson led his force through the canon to renew 
the attack; but the enemy had retreated. In this 
engagement the Americans lost one man killed, and 
had several slightly injured. The Mexicans and 



Indians suffered a loss of seventeen killed, and no 
doubt many more wounded. 

On the 26th of June, the horses belonging to Capt. 
Horine's company of mounted men, stationed under 
Major Edmondson, near Las Bagas, were stolen by 
the Mexicans, and driven into the neighboring moun- 
tains. On the 28th, Lieut. Brown and privates Mc- 
Clanahan and Quisenbury, together with one Mexican 
as a guide, were dispatched in pursuit of them. Not 
returning on the following day as they intended, their 
companions rightly conjectured that they had been 
murdered. On the 5th of July a Mexican lady came 
into Las Bagas and stated that three Americans and 
one Mexican had recently been slain, and their dead 
bodies consumed to ashes. 

Major Edmondson, immediately after receiving this 
information, posted out a strong picket guard, with 
instructions to permit no one to enter the camp, with- 
out first being brought before him. On the same day, 
private William Cox, of Capt. Hollaway's company, 
while hunting in the mountains, discovered three sus- 
picious looking Mexicans, endeavoring to shun him, 
whereupon he captured and brought them into camp. 
They were separately examined by Major Edmondson, 
but not being able to extort from them a satisfactory 
answer, one of them was hanged by the neck several 
times, and until he had almost expired. When let 
down the third time, he stated that three Americans 
and one Mexican had been recently murdered, and 
their dead bodies burned, near Las Bagas. When this 
confession was extorted, Major Edmondson quickly 
ordered the detachment, which consisted of twenty- 
nine cavalry, thirty-three infantry, and one twelve 


doniphan's expedition. 

pound mountain howitzer, to prepare for the march, 
expecting to reach town before daylight the next 

Major Edmondson, ascertaining that he would not 
be able to reach Las Bagas as soon as he desired, 
hurried on with the cavalry, leaving orders for 
the infantry and artillery to follow in his rear with all 
possible haste. On reaching the place, he divided 
his men into two parties, under command of Capts. 
Hollaway and Horine. They were now ordered to 
charge at full speed on the right and left at the same 
moment, and gain possession of the town. The charge 
was gallantly made. The Mexicans commenced a 
precipitate retreat towards the mountains. A part of 
the Americans fired upon them, while the others 
entered the town. In less than fifteen minutes ten 
Mexicans were slain, the fugitives were captured, and 
the town, with fifty prisoners, taken. The Americans 
sustained no loss. In this engagement Capt. Jackson 
and Lieut. Oxley fought as privates. The dead body 
of Lieut. Brown, having the cross suspended from the 
neck, was not burned, but secreted among the rocks. 
Such reverence is paid to the cross, by the most cruel 
men. The clothes, guns, sabres, holsters, pistols, 
bowie-knives and trinkets of these unfortunate men 
were discovered, secreted in various houses. Their 
ashes were also found. The greater part of the town 
was reduced to ashes, only a sufficient number of 
houses being left to shelter the women and children. 
Also the mills, a few miles from Las Bagas, which 
belonged to the alcalde, who w r as known to have par- 
ticipated in the murder of Lieut. Brown's party, were 



The prisoners, by order of Colonel Price, were con- 
veyed to Santa Fe, where they w r ere tried before a 
drum-head court-martial, and six of them sentenced 
to death. This sentence was, accordingly, carried 
into execution in Santa Fe, on the 3d of August, in 
the presence of the army. 

On the 9th of July, a detachment of thirty-one men, 
belonging to Capt. Morin's company, stationed on the 
Cienega, eighteen miles from Taos, was furiously 
attacked, two hours before daylight, by two hundred 
Mexicans and Pueblo Indians combined. Five of our 
men were killed,* and nine wounded. The remainder 
of the party retired under the banks of the Cienega, 
which position they gallantly held until Capt. Shep- 
herd arrived with his company, and assisted them in 
vanquishing the enemy. 

In the spring of 1847, the Indians, principally the 
Pawnees and Comanches, infested the Santa Fe road, 
committed repeated depredations on the government 
trains, fearlessly attacked the escorts, killed and drove 
off great numbers of horses, mules and oxen, belonging 
to the government, and in several instances, over- 
powered, and slew, or captured many of our people. 
They openly declared that they would cut off all com- 
munication between the Western States and New 
Mexico, and capture and enslave every American, 
who might venture to pass the plains. 

In pursuance of these views, a large body of In- 
dians, on the 22d of June, attacked a returning gov- 
ernment train near the grand Arkansas, drove off 
eighty yoke of oxen, and in sight of the teamsters, 

* The killed were Lieut. Larkin, W. Owens, J. A. Wright, W. S. 
Mason, and — Wilkinson. The loss of the enemy was not ascertained. 


Doniphan's expedition. 

whose force was too weak to offer effectual resistance, 
wantonly and cruelly slaughtered them for amusement, 
and for the gratification of their savage propensities. 

On the 26th, Lieut. Love's convoy, with 300,000 
dollars in specie, encamped near the Arkansas. He 
was furiously assailed by a body of five hundred 
savages, who had taken their position in the road, and 
lain in wait to surprise him at dawn. They succeeded in 
frightening the stock. One hundred and fifty yoke of 
oxen, in an estampeda, wildly scampered off, and 
crossed the river, followed by the Indians, yelling and 
firing amongst the herd. Twenty of Lieut. Love's 
men pursued to recover the cattle, while the rest 
remained to protect the train. They charged the 
Indians about one mile, who retired ; but this was 
a ruse to lead them into an ambuscade. At this mo- 
ment more than one hundred Indians sallied forth from 
an ambush, intercepted their retreat, and fiercely 
attacked them. They were now completely sur- 
rounded by the savages. The engagement became 
close and severe. At length the Americans charged 
through the enemy's ranks, and made good their retreat. 
The loss of the Indians in this action was twenty-five 
killed, and perhaps double that number wounded. 
The Americans, in killed and wounded, lost eleven. 
The savages were mounted on horses, and armed 
with guns, pistols, lances, shields, and bows and 

On the 27th of October, 1846, Capt. Mann's train 
of twenty-four government wagons was encamped, 
thirty miles below the crossing of the Arkansas. The 
next morning two of the best mules were missing. 
The captain and Yates started in search of them. 



They had not proceeded far when they saw signs of 
Indians. They returned to camp— geared up — and 
started off, leaving Woodson and Stricklin a short dis- 
tance in the rear, with one wagon. 

At this crisis several hundred Indians came charg- 
ing and yelling furiously from the hills, and some at- 
tacked the train, while others surrounded the two men 
with the wagon. The trains were halted and the 
wagons corraled. Woodson and Stricklin were res- 
cued, but the wagon which contained the Captain's 
scrutoire and three years' outfit of clothing was taken, 
rifled, and burned. The American loss was one killed, 
and four wounded — -loss of the Indians not ascertained. 

The Indians now surrounded the corral ; — night ap- 
proaching, Capt. Mann and his men determined to 
gear up, take the wounded, and decamp. Accord- 
ingly a white flag was hoisted, and the train moved 
off. In a short time they were overtaken by the sav- 
ages, who told them they desired to be friendly. A 
halt was ordered and the wagons again corraled. 
About 10 o'clock at night, the Indians came rushing 
and yelling, like a legion of devils, and drove off two 
hundred and eighty mules, leaving only twelve behind. 
The party now decamped, left the trains, and traveled 
on foot thirty miles, carrying the wounded, w T here 
they overtook Capt. Mcllvaine, who sent back for the 
wagons. Here they fortified, four miles below the 
Crossing, and sent the wounded to Fort Bent. 

About the 1st of July, 1847, a regiment of volun- 
teer infantry, raised in Illinois, and commanded by 
Colonels Newby and Boyakin, were outfitted at Fort 
Leavenworth, and dispatched across the plains, to re- 
lieve the troops under Col. Price, at Santa Fe, whose 


doniphan's expedition. 

term of service would soon expire. This is the 6th 
Illinois regiment. 

Also between the 5th and 20th of August, a battalion 
of infantry, under command of Lieutenant-colonel 
Easton, and a full regiment of cavalry, commanded by 
Colonels Ralls and Jones, and Major Reynolds, all Mis- 
souri volunteers, departed from Fort Leavenworth, 
destined for Santa Fe. This is the 4th regiment, and 
the fourth separate battalion of volunteers, Missouri 
has furnished for the war with Mexico. 

About the 27th of September, the fifth separate bat- 
talion of Missouri volunteers, under Lieutenant Col. 
Powell, left Fort Leavenworth for its destination on 
the Oregon route. This is denominated the Oregon 
battalion, and it will be employed in constructing a 
cordon of military posts from Western Missouri to the 
Oregon territory. It is a cavalry corps. 

Between the 1st and 15th of August, Gen. Price, 
and the troops under his command, returned to Mis- 
souri, where they arrived about the 25th of September, 
having lost more than four hundred men, in battle and 
by disease. A garrison of five companies, three of 
volunteers and two of regulars, was left in Santa Fe, 
under Lieutenant-colonel Walker. Gen. Price has re- 
turned to Santa Fe. His force is now about three 
thousand men. 

In consequence of the recent, repeated aggressions 
of the Indians on the Santa Fe road, the Executive de- 
termined to send against them a body of troops. Ac- 
cordingly on the 24th of July a rea x uisition was made 
on the State of Missouri for five companies of volun- 
teers, two of cavalry, two of infantry, and one of ar- 
tillery. This corps, the sixth separate battalion of 



Missouri volunteers, commanded by Lieutenant-colonel 
Gilpin, was outfitted at Fort Leavenworth, and took 
its departure thence for the plains on the 6th of Oct. 
where it will be employed in quelling and overawing 
the savages, who beset the Santa Fe road for booty. 
This is called the Indian battalion. 

These new levies are now in their various fields of 
operation. Little else remains for them to accomplish 
but to secure and maintain the conquests which have 
already been made. If, however, their subsequent 
achievements should be deemed worthy of historic 
record, they may be embraced in a future edition of 
this work. 

The author has now finished his labors, and if he 
has afforded entertainment for the curious, truth for 
the inquisitive, novelty for the lover of romance, in- 
struction for the student of history, or information for 
the general reader, he feels himself amply rewarded 
for his pains. Should any one, however, think that 
the narrative herein given of the expedition, is unfaith- 
ful or incomplete, let him consider how difficult it is 
to write history ; how impossible it is to feast every 
appetite ; and how diverse are the sentiments of 


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